evocates: (Accused: Simon - Sunsets)
• just another dreamer • ([personal profile] evocates) wrote2013-07-19 04:44 pm

[FIC] Eastern Promises/The Big Empty: in the desert sky we find home

I have literally been writing this fic for months. I think I received the prompt from [livejournal.com profile] helena_s_renn in October last year when I was prodding her for prompts to give me. It was something about Cowboy being an alien and something with Cowboy and Frank Hopkins or Nikolai. (It's actually been so incredibly long that I don't remember if she actually did send me the prompt, ahahaha.) But I do remember that I started writing it somewhere in February, and then I add a line or two every two or three weeks...

I refound it lately, right in the midst of just starting work. And I rewrote everything I started with and I finally found the inspiration to write it. But somehow I had no idea what on Earth I was writing. Even now I'm still uncertain about this whole thing, because it's very much unlike what I usually write. @_@ It might be because of work: I have no idea how I managed to find time to write amidst work, but somehow I do, in a sort of exhausted haze.

Well. I hope you all like this anyway. ♥!

in the desert sky we find home

Characters/Pairing: Cowboy (The Big Empty)/Nikolai Luzhin (Eastern Promises). Mentions of Yuri from Eastern Promises and Alec Trevelyan from Goldeneye.
Rating: R
Words: ~4120
Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respective owners. I’m just playing.
Summary: After losing his purpose, Nikolai walks the desert of America. Cowboy finds him, and brings him home in his own unique way.
Notes: For [livejournal.com profile] helena_s_renn's prompt, and dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] afra_schatz, who convinced me to not trash this when I was going to.

There was a man with Jesus inked on his chest and stars on his shoulders and knees, and for those signs the vory v zakone in Britain had named him Judas. Iscariot they called him, the disloyal thirteenth, and they bayed for his blood like the wolves they were. He was unwelcomed there after Semyon fell, after Kirill died by his hands. But this Judas who held no love for Jesus did not betray the vor for thirty pieces of silver – if he had, then perhaps the vor would have forgiven him. No, he did it for the lives of those the vor called slaves; the lives of those who had been judged inconsequential and unworthy and the dozens of words used to try to dismiss the slaves as creatures having no existence whatsoever.

(Perhaps he was called Judas because he was Jesus after all.)

The man the vor called Judas had betrayed them even before the beginning: the tattoos inked on his skin were false ones. He received them for all the right reasons with plenty of witnesses to prove his deeds, but he believed nothing of the vors' creed, and that was the greatest betrayal of all.

Liars, Judas learned, disliked being lied to.

Judas’s real name – if anything could be real about a man like him – was Nikolai Luzhin, and he wandered the desert now. The dry coarse sands belonged to America, and the Southern sun was so hot that Nikolai could almost believe that it would scorch the tattoos clean from his skin, or the sand could rub them away and leave nothing but pristine paper-thinness beneath.

It was Yuri who sent Nikolai to America. If left to himself, Nikolai would have stayed in Britain, waiting for the vory to take their revenge. He knew perfectly well that if any of the vor saw him again they would kill him, and sometimes he thought he should let them, if only because he was tired beyond measure.

(Tired, and filled with guilt, and sometimes he thought the vory’s nickname was more appropriate than they had realised themselves.)

But Yuri knew him well, and it was Yuri’s bidding he must still do. He came to America for the sake of safety, but the desert he chose himself – in London and Moscow he had spent most of his recent years, and he wanted a place that would not remind him of either. A place without rain, without damp, without snow, without chill; a barren, dry place without the warmth of human breath to fill the air with life and strangle it.

There probably was poetry written about the desert sun; about how its rays pierced through the sparse clouds without any effort whatsoever. But those were not words made for Nikolai: he was still too much a child of winter.

Nikolai followed the paths of the sun, towards the west. He took shade under one of the trees with large, waxy leaves and lit up a cigarette, watching the smoke curl in the dry air for but a few seconds before disappearing. Sweat coated his skin, sticky like mucus, and in that moment he wondered if he chose the desert because not for its strangeness, but because of that half-formed hope within his heart that he might melt like the grey snowmen he had made in his youth, long ago.

But his arm felt as solid as it had always been. Nikolai held a small patch between his fingers, watched wrinkles form and the ink of his tattoo stretch and gleam.

Out of the corner of his eyes, a shadow slowly approached him in the shape of a man.

Nikolai lifted his head, following the shadow’s progress, and wondered if he found another lost soul amongst this barren desert. But the thought disappeared quickly, because it was clear that this was no wanderer: the man walked towards him, legs straight and strides purposeful. He wore a heavy black leather coat and a wide-brimmed hat, and though the air shivered around him in the heat of the American desert, there was no sweat beading on his face.

In every country, there were grandmothers who told stories about spirits and faeries; of the creatures that snuck in through the long summer nights and stole children from their cradles; monsters with overly bright eyes, long limbs, and nails so long that they could sink them into any child’s throat and rip it open instantly. Parents, too, told such stories to their children, in hopes of putting fear into them so they would not wander away one night.

Nikolai knew of those grandmothers. He might have one, long ago, before he disavowed his family and disappeared from the sights of those who lived normal lives. Princes of thieves had no family, and the bratva was a brotherhood, one that disallowed anyone to have a family outside those who had the same tattoos.

As the stranger came closer, Nikolai seated himself on the base of the tree, back against the trunk. The heat seeped through his clothes, but he could still see. To his surprise, the stranger’s face was a familiar one. He had met this man before – or one with exactly the same face. It was long ago, during the Cold War, and that man he saw was a British agent with a strong Russian jaw and who spoke the language as if it was one he was born with.

The eyes were wrong, though: the man he met had green eyes, but this stranger’s gaze an unearthly, inhuman blue.

“What are you doing here?” Nikolai asked, because the question was wiser than the one that sat uneasily on his tongue.

(What are you?)

“I’ve come to take you home,” the stranger said simply. His was a familiar accent, one that belonged to a continent away, an island that Nikolai had just left. But it was his voice itself that caught Nikolai’s attention: it rang out in the empty space around them, rustling the leaves overhead and making the sand shudder as if it was winter.

Maybe the grandmothers were wrong after all, Nikolai thought. Maybe the spirits and faeries did not fear fire and heat; maybe they thrive in such things. It might, in a roundabout way, explain how the stranger’s blond hair seemed to glow in the sun, and his eyes were two shining stones.

“I don’t have a home anymore,” Nikolai shrugged, turning his head away to stare off into the distance. There was another tree there, shivering under the overly bright sunlight.

“That’s why I’m bringing you home,” the stranger reached out a hand. “Come with me.”

I might die, Nikolai thought suddenly. He cracked a smile and almost laughed, his hands fumbling in his pockets before drawing out a cigarette. “I’d need name before first date,” he drawled, but he knew his eyes had already showed his acceptance, though he wasn’t standing.

It was dangerous, he knew, but he let it show nonetheless.

“Call me Cowboy,” the stranger said, and there was the smallest of creases at the corners of his eyes. A shadow of a shadow of a smile.

Nikolai looked at him for a long moment. It was so obviously not a real name that it might as well be one, a name so false that in the opposite logic of Nikolai’s world, it had become true. But what was truth to a man who had cornered the market for lies?

He shrugged, unfolding his legs and flicking cigarette ash away from himself. Cowboy’s hand remained held in the air, untouched, as Nikolai stood again.

“So where are you going?”

Cowboy tilted his head, the brim of the large fedora falling away until the sun shine straight into his eyes. He didn’t even blink, though Nikolai had to, because the brightness of the blue was so unreal that he could not help but think of spirits once more.

“You haven’t given me your name,” Cowboy said.

Nikolai exhaled, smoke trailing out from his lips. He looked at his new companion through lowered lashes. “Don’t you know it already?”

“It is not polite to assume,” Cowboy said mildly, the strange smile returning. He looked like a bird, one of those ravens that liked to roost on top of buildings in St. Petersburg. “I would rather ask.”

“Judas,” Nikolai smirked.

“Your name,” returned Cowboy gently. “Not a name someone has given you.”

He didn’t move, but there was a sense of disapproval that came off him like a wave, and Nikolai suddenly felt like a scolded child. It had been four decades since he had felt like that, and he bared his teeth almost involuntarily.

“You didn’t give me your real name either,” he countered.

“Cowboy,” came the implacable reply. “It is my name.”

“It is description. Not name.”

“It is my name,” said Cowboy again, and Nikolai knew that he was fighting a losing battle. Strange thought it was, to think of something like this as a battle. Maybe that was what he had been looking for, in this strange desert.

He’d rather not think about that. Instead, he took another drag of his cigarette. “Nikolai,” he said finally.

Cowboy took a step forward, and another, and suddenly there was the feel of solid tree against Nikolai’s back once more. He stared, nearly unseeing, as Cowboy leaned in, their lips brushing as he took smoke-tinged breath straight out of Nikolai’s mouth.

“Nikolai,” Cowboy murmured, his breath hotter than fire against Nikolai’s aged, creased skin. He was so close that Nikolai could see the wrinkles at the side of his eyes, and he felt surprise at that – about this man who looked so human, but acted like a spirit, a fae, and nothing human at all.

“I’ve come to bring you home.” He grinned, deepening the lines around his eyes even further. “Partner.”

***

The years that had passed since Nikolai had followed anyone were so numerous that he could barely remember how to put one foot in front of another with a shadow in front of him. Sometimes he stepped into the light footprints Cowboy left behind, if only to make it easier. Yuri’s orders were different, he thought, because it was Yuri who followed Nikolai, really; followed him and tried to pick up the pieces of Nikolai’s shattered self as he shed them with every step he took into the world of the vor. Yuri picked up those pieces in the hopes that one day he would be allowed to try to piece them back together.

(But he had never managed that, and Nikolai had left him back in England, his hands full of shards.)

He had been following Cowboy for hours. Or was it days? Time seemed to matter little to nothing, the seconds counted not by heartbeats or the movement of the sun but by the swish of Cowboy’s black leather coat with every step he took.

The sun had long set when they stopped, but the skies were lit by stars, clearer and brighter than Nikolai had ever seen, even during his childhood in the village in the backwaters of the Soviet Union. Their feet stopped and Cowboy stripped off his leather jacket, laying it upon the ground. The darkness grew upon the grey-gold sands until it became a blanket, and Nikolai did not resist when Cowboy nudged him. His legs folded, bending underneath him, and he dropped down to lie on warm cloth.

Smoother than a waterfall of silk it was in the dark, though it gleamed and folded like leather in sunlight. Nikolai thought once more of the tales that grandmothers supposedly told, the ones with creatures who lured the unsuspecting into their traps.

Home, Cowboy had said. Now Nikolai was on his back, his hands reaching up, fingertips curling in. There was something within him that wished to pluck the stars or bring the skies down with him so he could live within it. Not that it was at all possible; even if there was something within the grand darkness named space, it wasn’t a place for someone like Nikolai to find.

The darkness jarred, tilted away, and all that filled Nikolai’s vision was bright, inhuman blue. Cowboy leaned over him, his hand slamming down beside Nikolai’s head hard and silent, as if the jacket had swallowed up all sounds.

“Close your eyes and open your mouth,” Cowboy said, the grin returning after hours (days?) of walking without a single expression. “I have a surprise for you.”

Nikolai stared up at him. The laughter came suddenly, a punch in the sternum that had his breath stuttering out of him and his shoulders shaking. His lips parted as he dragged in air, trying to breathe. His throat had forgotten what it was like to laugh, too familiar it was to the phantom chill of a knife being drawn over it, so it made no sound. But he was smiling, feeling like his face would crack from it.

Cowboy cocked his head to the side, an overlarge raven with too-bright eyes. Nikolai laughed even harder, his gasps loud in the still night air.

“You don’t like it?” Cowboy asked.

Maybe you’re a faerie after all, Nikolai thought, gathering his control back within himself and looking steadily into Cowboy’s eyes. Only a fae will say such things.

“It sounds like line from terrible porn movie,” Nikolai said, and he reached up, stroking the inked backs of his fingers over Cowboy’s skin. Smooth as a baby’s, without a single hint of stubble despite the time that had passed. Nikolai’s own jaw was dotted with small hairs already.

“It doesn’t suit you.”

Cowboy made a small noise in his throat, like a hum. “No one has ever told me that before,” he said.

“I’m original. Special,” Nikolai said, shoulders jerking a little, surprised at his own ability to tease.

Cowboy smiled again. “You are,” he said. “I don’t usually bring people home one by one.”

All amusement drained out of Nikolai then, and he stroked Cowboy’s cheek again, pressed his fingers hard against the skin until he could feel solidness that felt like bone and might be just that.

“What are you?” he whispered, finally releasing the question that had hid itself in the depths of his mind since the first sight he caught of Cowboy. But even now, he wasn’t even sure if he wanted to know the answer.

Tilting his head, Cowboy exhaled his words straight into his ears. “I’m a shepherd, Nikolai,” he said, and his smile could be felt against the fleshly lobe. “I gather the lost sheep, and I bring them home.”

“Shepherds eat their sheep in the end,” Nikolai said without knowing why. His body arched upwards. Cowboy was warm, inhumanly so, a furnace bare centimetres from his skin.

“I don’t,” Cowboy said, but his words were belied by his teeth gently scraping against Nikolai’s jaw. “I don’t eat, I mean.”

Somehow Nikolai wasn’t surprised at all. Cowboy’s eyes were like the stars themselves, and perhaps that was where he came from. The grandmothers were wrong, Nikolai thought, because the faeries and spirits weren’t born from malice in the forests, but instead came from the skies, born when the shooting stars fade away.

It had been so very long since Nikolai thought of the world in metaphors, in any form of poetry.

He reached up, sliding his hands over Cowboy’s still-clad shoulders, feeling thick, too-silky cloth. There was no fear inside himself, he realised. No trepidation. There was only a small voice, calling desperately for his instincts, for the part of himself that knew self-preservation better than walking. But his body was quiet, leaving him only with his thoughts.

“Your actions make me think you are lying,” he said.

Cowboy laughed, the sound a gentle drum next to Nikolai’s pulse. “I’m not,” he replied, his hand stroking down Nikolai’s shoulder. “If I’m going to eat you, it’s a figurative type of eating.”

Nikolai pulled away immediately, staring up into eerie blue eyes.

“You don’t eat, but you have sex,” he stated bluntly. “Why?”

“Why not?” Cowboy smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling up again. “I don’t have it very often, no. Only with someone special.”

“Special,” Nikolai repeated, eyes narrowing. No one had ever used that precise word to describe him before, not even in Russian. They would imply it instead, the meaning shining through their eyes as their lips tried to form everything opposite. He thought of Kirill again, the man whom he had ruined and killed with his own hands, heart’s blood spilling out and coating red all over his hands.

(It’s a violent thought, a macabre thought, but it was comforting somehow.)

Cowboy tilted his head, making a soft sound in affirmative. His mouth brushed over Nikolai’s jaw, too-smooth lips over stubbled skin.

Nikolai tipped his head up and looked to the skies. This was something he had never experienced before, he realised; not once in his long years of living. Not fucking someone he had known for barely hours, no, but fucking under the light of the waning moon and the stars, not a single artificial light anywhere in sight. Like the world had been remade between one breath and the next.

The newness sent a thrill down his spine. “Okay,” he said. “Come on, then.”

“Eager,” Cowboy murmured.

“You or me?” Nikolai raised an eyebrow.

“Both of us,” Cowboy smiled again. “Isn’t that the only way to be eager?”

It started from the base of his chest: a bubble that grew and grew, scratching the insides of his Adam’s apple. Nikolai’s lips parted before he bit down on the bottom one, surprised at himself— so much that he couldn’t help the laughter from rising, blowing out his cheeks. He laughed but once, a harsh ripple from the base of his throat, rusty and rough from disuse.

Had he ever laughed sincerely before this, much less during sex? Or even in the prelude to sex? Nikolai didn’t know. If he had, it happened so long ago that he no longer remembered, and so it had stopped mattering at all.

He stared upwards at Cowboy, his eyes wide. This was new and something else as well – something he had never thought he wanted or even wished for. Nikolai reached up, cupped his hands around Cowboy’s jaw.

“Suits you,” Cowboy said, his tongue darting out of his mouth to lick at the base of Nikolai’s palm. “Laughing.”

“Haven’t done it in a long time,” Nikolai said, and when he looked down at Cowboy’s hand on his chest, he wasn’t surprised that he was naked. His clothes had disappeared; appropriate, really, because Nikolai felt more open than he had for years. Decades.

Cowboy wasn’t just fae in the way he moved or talked, after all.

“You will do it more once we reach home,” he said, bright blue eyes shuttered beneath heavy lids.

“I don’t know where that is,” Nikolai whispered. “You keep talking about it, but you haven’t told me.”

Giving a soft chuckle, Cowboy placed his fingertips on Nikolai’s jaw, tilting it up and to the side, towards the stars and sky. “Up there,” he said, and his other hand stroked down Nikolai’s side, curving over his ass, slipping suddenly-slick fingers inside and making him moan. “And down here. Home is many places.”

The words were beyond cheesy, Nikolai knew, but somehow he believed in it. Or perhaps he believed because Cowboy was crooking his fingers, digging them inside, sliding smooth skin over his prostate. Nikolai stared up at the stars – both those above him, and those bursting into life beneath his eyelids.

He pulled Cowboy down, crashing their lips together. His lips split from the contact, a sudden lightning-crack of pain, and he felt once more the ground beneath his shoulders, a sudden reminder that he was still here. That Cowboy hasn’t taken him away just yet.

“You talk too much,” he hissed out.

“You don’t like saying what you want,” Cowboy mused, sounding far too calm even as he pressed three fingers now inside Nikolai, twisting them and holding him down as he shook. “I like that about you, I think.”

“Why?” Nikolai tried to pull away enough to blink.

“It makes you the same as many people,” Cowboy answered, leaning down until their foreheads touched and his too-hot breath ghosted over Nikolai’s mouth. “It proves you wrong about what you think about yourself, and I like that.”

“You talk as if you know me already.”

“Maybe I do,” Cowboy replied. “Maybe I’ve been watching you.”

He pulled away, and the sudden rush of cold desert night air between their bodies made Nikolai twist, arched away from the leather jacket, chasing heat. He forced his eyes to stay open, to stare upwards, nearly unseeing, at those bright eyes.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he said, already knowing the words were futile.

Cowboy only stroked his hair, drawing his fingers out from Nikolai’s body. “Of course it doesn’t,” he said, and the odd little smile came back. “You knew that even before you saw my face.”

“How do you know?” Nikolai couldn’t help but ask; though he had a feeling he already knew the answer. “How do you know what I saw in you?” His thumbs pressed down on the outside corners of Cowboy’s eyes. An unasked, silly question: How good are your eyes?

Hands closed around Nikolai’s ankles, spreading them. Nikolai let his legs fall open, his head pressing back against the coat. He could barely feel the sand beneath the cloth anymore.

“You’re not the first one I brought home,” Cowboy said, and his smile widened as he pushed into Nikolai. His cock was thick and long, covered in a substance heavier than gel and more slippery than oil. Nikolai could feel both of his hands on his hips.

He closed his eyes, and let out a sigh as an answer.

“There is usually a ritual, you see,” Cowboy said, almost musingly. “I have to bring them here in a bus, and they wear blue tracksuits and tennis shoes.” Fingers crawled up Nikolai’s chest, brushing over death inked over his right side, above his liver. Nails dug into his ribs as Cowboy pulled back and drove inside, leisurely in his movements. “They stand in a circle, with someone who refuses to go home in the centre. A conduit, between this world and home.”

The other hand left Nikolai’s hip, pressed against his forehead, forcing his eyes open. “You’re special to me. I don’t need that ritual with you.”

There was a gun in Cowboy’s hand, Nikolai saw suddenly, and its barrel wide and gaping. Darkness seemed alive within it as Cowboy pointed it right between Nikolai’s eyes. He knew he should be afraid and perhaps he should struggle, but Nikolai only wrapped his legs tighter around Cowboy’s hips, driving him in even deeper.

His lips parted, but no sound came out.

Cowboy kissed him. Nikolai drowned in blue, and in the corner of his eyes, he saw, like slow-approaching thunderclouds, white smoke curl out of the gun. It came nearer and nearer, swallowing up the blue, taking over his entire view.

And Nikolai knew he was going home now. His hands clenched tight on Cowboy’s shoulders, trying to find skin beneath black cloth. Cowboy thrust in again, bringing the stars down to Nikolai.

There would be one person who would miss him, and maybe send out a search party for him. But Nikolai knew that Yuri would be happy if he disappeared, even if the handler wouldn’t admit it. Nikolai had nothing left in this world except for a duty that had pulled everything out of him and twisted it.

His thoughts curled, unravelling, and Nikolai realised a long-hidden thought: he missed the young boy who believed in his parents with wide-eyed naiveté. Maybe he wouldn’t regain it if he left, but at the very least, wherever he was going would have something new, and he wouldn’t have to look at everything with the eyes of an old man.

And he would have Cowboy. He would have this: scorching heat more like raw flame than human; solidity like rock beneath his hands; a creature that would be fae if not for his ties to the sky instead to forests.

Strange, really, how a single meeting could change a person’s life. (But Nikolai didn’t find it odd at all; he had done it enough to others, and this seemed to be karma, in its own way.)

The blinding white was strange and new, but Cowboy’s lips were a comforting weight.

Like home.

End

[identity profile] bluegerl.livejournal.com 2013-07-19 11:54 am (UTC)(link)
You are a miracle writer. You've just created somewhere that IS, yet isn't and cannot BE!

I was so sad at the end of Eastern Promises.... what, where, ... poor Nikolai - a crucifying non-end and I soooo wanted him to find solace, peace, something somewhere and here it is!

In the Big Empty. Arid, without life, without - them - the whispering voices, Judassss Judasss... they hiss, waiting to strike. His fears for Yuri but having to leave him - unfinished.

This quiet solitary nothingness that a desert can give, it takes your soul out and polishes it in the sun. Perfect for Nikolai's pain.

And then comes this big COOL man who once had green eyes but now - they are of spaceful ice. A half-forgotten unforgettable voice like a melting rock in his head.

The Cowboy, so slow, so gentle, so - so pauseful. Peaceful, sure and yet not commanding. Nor pleading. Jest saying.

I love the touches of the magic - the fae-ness - so part of it.

I wondered if Nikolai would have his tattoos wiped away with those big cool hands.... The leather that was silk, the hardness that was and wasn't sand that wasn't hard.... mmmmmmmm am just squeeeing at all these little 'knowledges'.

All so intangible and nearly un-real, but yet - solid, with skin over bone. The gun suddenly there. a gun that kills.. dead. But it didn't kill Nikolai, it became intangible too, and just -- with The Cowboy's lips, it kissed him home.



Am just banging my head on the desk for this one. SOOO many pictures, so many answers for my lost Nikolai, So much - wonder and wondering. It's absolutely mindblowing.

Agreed, you've not written anything like this before? Have you? but it is still YOU, with your magical way of giving us solid persons to imagine, to know, to care about and for, and yet... put them in a place our minds might guess at, but never can venture

I've already had a brilliant Happy start to my day, and before I read this I was just bursting with joy for simply BEING... Happy! It's all so new to me, it's like being loved.

But this made my Happy so happy, I am weeping with sheer delight! There! See what you've done. Bless and love and I WISH you could feel my joy, my bubbles of wheee and be as blessed as I am... I'm doing my best to send you great LUMPS of it!!! HUGS and thinks every day of you.

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, Blue. I had no idea how to reply to this for such a long time - it's why this comment is so late - because I haven't been in a good enough mood for it, but I have to say that I've read your comment many times for the past days and it always cheered me up. I'm so, so happy that this struck true for you, and that the characters are as real as always despite the dreamy and fairytale-like atmosphere. That the images are real.

Thank you so, so much for this! I'm really happy that you read this after a good morning and it made it better. Have huge hugs from me, and hearts: ♥♥♥!!!!

[identity profile] helena-s-renn.livejournal.com 2013-07-20 03:12 am (UTC)(link)
it's a beautiful rendering of these two men, or a man and a something-other. the whole thing gave me peace. both characters show so many layers, their lives, and your writing is flawless. [livejournal.com profile] afra_schatz is 100% correct that it's not trash.

you're right, i'm not around much, so to have you write something for me is a surprise and an honor. thank you - I love it.

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Your prompts are incredibly inspiring, especially this one that stuck with me for so long. I just didn't want to give up on it, no matter how long I spent without proper inspiration, because it just was so striking. Thank you so much for prompting me!

I know that you're not here much, but I'm still thinking of you. I hope that things are going well over that side, Helena, and thank you so much for the prompt and this comment. ♥!
msilverstar: (viggo 09)

[personal profile] msilverstar 2013-07-20 07:11 am (UTC)(link)
what amazing imagery!

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you, lovely!

[identity profile] afra-schatz.livejournal.com 2013-07-20 09:58 am (UTC)(link)
So, I'll just comment over here instead of via email, okay :)?

There was a man with Jesus inked on his chest and stars on his shoulders and knees, and for those signs the vory v zakone in Britain had named him Judas.

Like I said before, I really like the storytelling in this, and it starts with the first sentence. This kind of fairy tile like feeling, and at the same time the theme in this is all to real and yet detached - like Nikolai is telling this story about himself while feeling like a stranger in his own skin. The very first sentence sets the tone of this entire story, of how Nikolai is kind of done with this world and trying to make his peace with it, and at the same time (and maybe because of this) he feels lost, feels drifting, without purpose.

Throughout this, there is this excellent justaposition between, e.g. eloquence and not knowing what to say, between seeing things and being able to name them and not knowing what to do with them.

Putting all of his backstory into an inner monologue, and one that feels so much like an omniscient narrator's pov could have backfired, could have felt like way too much exposition. It doesn't here because Nikolai is TRYING to be BE this kind of narrator, even if only for himself, because this is the only way he knows how to get along in the world; relying only on himself.

Out of the corner of his eyes, a shadow slowly approached him in the shape of a man.

This is kind of really beautiful and the perfect introduction of how / who Cowboy is - I like that he has something sinister to him, and that this is probably the one thing drawing Nikolai to him the most; like darkness has always been his destination, his purpose, and even here, even when he wants to find peace (and finds it in the end) it is there in the darkness, not the light, where he finds it.

“It is description. Not name.”

“It is my name,” said Cowboy again,


I like the cryptic nature of all of their conversations which - at the same time - are so very clear and eloquent. Again, it is light a constant interchanging between the brightest light (in this case: the very clearly phrased thoughts and ideas - and it makes sense, a name being something individual, and identity with it's own worth, whereas a description, a purpose is so much more... shadow-y) and the darkest darkness (in this case: the kind of cryptic nature of their words). Love it.

Yuri’s orders were different, he thought, because it was Yuri who followed Nikolai, really; followed him and tried to pick up the pieces of Nikolai’s shattered self as he shed them with every step he took into the world of the vor.

Love that description. It's heartbreaking.

Cowboy cocked his head to the side, an overlarge raven with too-bright eyes. Nikolai laughed even harder, his gasps loud in the still night air.

LOVE this. Cowboy stays not only mysterious but potentially dangerous, and it's what draws Nikolai to him, whether he wants to or not.

“Why not?” Cowboy smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling up again. “I don’t have it very often, no. Only with someone special.”

I'm still pondering about this bit, the entire scene there really. Because when I first read it I was frowning a bit as I read - we've talked about things that are said outright, like "someone special" and how there's always the danger of cheapening something, of words just being WORDS, if that makes sense. And I kind of liked how their encounter up to this point seemed dream like and un-rea, like everything of this is maybe just taking place in Nikolai's mind; whereas this here is so very REAL and physical and direct. But on the other hand, I kind of like how abrput this is, how this maybe makes Cowboy even more dangerous, predatory even, even if Nikolai doesn't see it like that... I still have to think about it, but you know what I mean?

(Ack, I gotta go - need to buy paint and my sis and my mom are waiting already... BBL)

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I love your comments and I'm still speechless over this one even after days, so I'm just going to be shameless and say that I'll wait until you have time to finish commenting before replying to you. But as always, I love your comments and the things you notice and pick out, honestly. /snugs you in arms ♥♥♥!

[identity profile] afra-schatz.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 08:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Ha, I have been thinking about the ending of this a lot (on and off) over the last couple of days, and I've stil not come to a concusion, so there :). I think it has something to do with this: Cowboy is, strangely, the least sexual of all of Sean's characters to me. I say strangely, because a. it's SEAN and b. Cowboy does have an immense physical presence. It's just that with all of Sean's other characters, this physicality is strongly linked to sexual attractiveness as well as sensualness (in a sexual way). For some reason, Cowboy is the sole exception. Maybe it's because he is rather un-earthly, and Sean's usual 'earthiness' is what makes him sexy / sexually attractive. I'm not sure really, but you know what I'm trying to say?

So, when things get physical between Nikolai and Cowboy it seems almost 'strange' to me, like something _I_ consider OOC for Cowboy for some reason. Whenever Sean is sexually attractive / sexually active, it's what makes all his characters human (sex being the prime human motivator; or the need to connect with someone on a physical (as well as other) level). So, when Cowboy engages in sex, to me he almost loses something of his cryptic, in-human nature.

On the other hand, like I said, I think it's really rather fascinating how their sexual encounter makes your Cowboy seem almost predatory. Like, without the sex it's unclear why Cowboy does what he does, what his motivation for being a shepard (a cowboy) is, what he gets from it. With the sex it's possible to read this as him taking advantage, sex is his way of compensating himself for services rendered - and Nikolai doesn't even have any say in it, as much as he already is in Cowboy's hands, lost soul that he is. I think that's a really fascinating possibility within the character of Cowboy, something that makes him _more_ human in a way that it makes him more egoistical, more desire-driven and understandable (or relate-able, if you will).

You see why I'm torn :D?

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-26 06:01 am (UTC)(link)
So, I'll just comment over here instead of via email, okay :)?

I'm happy to get your comments anywhere I can have them, lovely. /snugs

like Nikolai is telling this story about himself while feeling like a stranger in his own skin

You're doing it again, that bit where you tell me things about my writing that I never knew. It's almost eerie how often you do that, seriously. Because I've never thought of it this way before and you just hit the nail on the head with regards with the kind of storytelling here - that it's so detached, yet so intimate, that it's essentially Nikolai telling the story of himself to himself. In the sense of 'I'll write the end of my story and after that I will stop having a story.' /snugs you tightly.

I like the cryptic nature of all of their conversations which - at the same time - are so very clear and eloquent.

What they're saying makes a lot of logical sense, but the meanings are almost completely lost and escapes in what seems like thin air, really. Clear, yet ungraspable. I'm so, so happy that I managed to get that across because man, it seemed impossible when I was trying to do it.

LOVE this. Cowboy stays not only mysterious but potentially dangerous, and it's what draws Nikolai to him, whether he wants to or not.

You know, it's odd, because I agree about Cowboy's potential dangerousness, that he is deliberately mysterious and therefore unsafe. It's pretty much the sense I got from him in the movie. And this is odd because I managed to agree with you about this bit while disagreeing completely that Cowboy is the least sexual for me. His physical presence, the fact that we know nothing about him... I don't know, it makes him unearthly, but at least same time I find him intensely attractive because of that unearthliness. Because he's not a porcelain doll like Arwen or a regal figure like Galadriel; instead he's someone who 'roughs it out' and is unearthly because he works on a different realm of logic. It doesn't mean that he can't work on human logic; that he can't be egoistical, if behaving like that fit his particular brand of logic.

I'm not very sure if I'm being very clear. But basically: Cowboy is hot because of his unearthliness to me. And also his voice and his mouth, man. /breathes into hands

I do see why you're torn, and now I'm wondering if my rambling has nudged you towards one direction or another? :3?

[identity profile] afra-schatz.livejournal.com 2013-07-26 06:46 am (UTC)(link)
'I'll write the end of my story and after that I will stop having a story.'

Yes, exactly. And I think that's really, really cool and fitting for him, because he _wants_ to give up control (basically, I think he just wants to let go of everything, and yes, of course that is a euphemism for dying) and at the same time this kind of storytelling shows how very very much he is re-asserting control, almost on autopilot, by the way he is telling this story. At least until Cowboy shows up which is when the narrative feels more disjointed.

I don't know, it makes him unearthly, but at least same time I find him intensely attractive because of that unearthliness.

I re-watched bits and pieces of Big Empty yesterday to check whether I wasn't just talking out of my ass :), but I wasn't. It is odd, yes, because I would agree that he is attractive and fascinating, but in his case this isn't linked to sex. Like, to put it bluntly, I'd totally drag all of Sean's other characters into the next backalley and have my way with them, but with Cowboy I'd just want to sit there and stare at him, maybe like you would at a panther in the zoo. Really, like I said before, to me he is by far the least human character (human as in someone you can (easily) relate to), and yeah, I do find panthers endlessly fascinating but I wouldn't want to shag them :).

But back to your story: Maybe it's just me feeling uncomfortable with the eeriness of this, and maybe that's what I've reacted to. Like in this bit in particular:

“It makes you the same as many people,” Cowboy answered, leaning down until their foreheads touched and his too-hot breath ghosted over Nikolai’s mouth. “It proves you wrong about what you think about yourself, and I like that.”

“You talk as if you know me already.”

“Maybe I do,” Cowboy replied. “Maybe I’ve been watching you.”


It is something that Nikolai finds comforting and yet I can't help but feel shivers running down my spine because dude, this feels SO predatory. It's like Cowboy's words put Nikolai in his place, in an almost completely uncaring, casual way that seems almost cruel. Like he is taking away the illusion that Nikolai is special or has any sort of control at all. And yeah, Nikolai wants this and I think it's partly because he has been so broken that he is beyond fixing. But at the same time (and this is what Nikolai is thinking at one point) how much is due to Cowboy's manipulation?

It does work for both characters, amazingly, and still, even when rewatching The Big Empty and maybe because the protagonist is so decidedly unsexy ;), I still have difficulties bringing these to versions together. Hm.

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-27 08:13 am (UTC)(link)
at the same time this kind of storytelling shows how very very much he is re-asserting control, almost on autopilot, by the way he is telling this story.

Nikolai is immensely contradictory that way, I think. His autopilot is basically to go directly against what he actually wants, ahahah. He's a huge control freak - at least in this story - so even his attempt to lose control just gives him even more.

But at the same time (and this is what Nikolai is thinking at one point) how much is due to Cowboy's manipulation?

Oooooh, this is actually intensely fascinating. Because the other comments are talking about how comforting it is that Cowboy basically takes Nikolai home by force, and you're telling me that Cowboy is basically preying on Nikolai here and forcing him to find the loss of control to be comforting. Or Nikolai is so broken that he finds something horrid to be good, and that's very eerie.

I think, honestly, given that I have no idea what I was writing, both works. It really depends on whether you believe in Nikolai's POV or not. Because somehow Cowboy is still strange and cryptic and unearthly here because we don't get his POV at all.

(And it's strange that you picked out those three lines in particular, because it's only after I wrote those lines that I finally realised where this was going, and I had to go back to edit. :3)

I still have difficulties bringing these to versions together. Hm.

What do you mean here, lovely?

[identity profile] afra-schatz.livejournal.com 2013-07-27 09:50 am (UTC)(link)
about how comforting it is that Cowboy basically takes Nikolai home by force

Maybe it is this bit that made the sex somewhat...strange to me basically because it clouds judgement and even if I should agree that taking someone anywhere by force might be good for them (as broken as Nikolai is, it might be indeed), adding sex to that feels like taking advantage, you know?

And it's strange that you picked out those three lines in particular, because it's only after I wrote those lines that I finally realised where this was going, and I had to go back to edit. :3

Why these three lines? Explain :)?

What do you mean here, lovely?

I was refering to my two interpretations of Cowboy and his motivation and how I still can't decide which one is the 'true' one for me...

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-28 02:31 am (UTC)(link)
adding sex to that feels like taking advantage, you know?

I would have to say this this bit is at least a little bit deliberate. >_>

Why these three lines? Explain :)?

Because before this, I wrote Cowboy as being a lot more... benevolent. A lot gentler, I think, almost like the Tolkien Elves in his inhumanity instead of being utterly alien. My original idea - the one I started writing in February - had him comforting Nikolai by telling him about the world in the skies, and I think part of why I couldn't write it is because the film gave no idea about it and it didn't feel authentic for Cowboy to be that nice. Then I wrote the three lines in the beginning of this month, I think, and I realised the direction I was going was completely wrong, so I rewrote everything.

I was refering to my two interpretations of Cowboy and his motivation and how I still can't decide which one is the 'true' one for me...

I think, for Cowboy especially, having more than one interpretation is perfectly fine. :3

[identity profile] noalinnea.livejournal.com 2013-07-21 07:34 am (UTC)(link)
Hmm. I didn't really get this, I think, maybe because I don't have a clue about who Cowboy is. I very much liked the images though, especially the one of the home amongst the stars, almost biblical but at the same time something completely diffferent, with faes and spirits dancing in the air. Maybe I can come back to this if I ever find time to watch The big Empty. :)

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:30 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not sure whether to recommend The Big Empty to you, because it's very much an indie movie with a rather strange plot, but Sean is awesome in it, as always. But I'm glad that you read this and enjoyed it even though you don't know who Cowboy is and all the references I made to The Big Empty. /hugs tight Thank you, lovely. ♥

[identity profile] peersrogue.livejournal.com 2013-07-21 07:48 am (UTC)(link)
Breathless. Wonderfully edgy, a story with so many depths to be read and read again.

"...Nikolai drowned in blue, and in the corner of his eyes, he saw, like slow-approaching thunderclouds, white smoke curl out of the gun. It came nearer and nearer, swallowing up the blue, taking over his entire view"

A magical moment stretching time as Nikolai faces death. I salute you incredible writing.



[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Nikolai is a little luckier than most in that his death doesn't seem much like death, but more of going home. Thank you for taking a chance with this, lovely! ♥

[identity profile] sadme4b.livejournal.com 2013-07-23 04:22 am (UTC)(link)
this was so good - i'm glad you didn't trash it
something unreal and other worldly about it, but still - sunk in reality . . .
(and I've ordered the movie - maybe then i can finally get to see all of it - not just the last half . . .)

I was rather sad when i found out they weren't making the sequel . . . *sigh*
Edited 2013-07-23 04:23 (UTC)

[identity profile] evocates.livejournal.com 2013-07-25 12:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Unreal was how it felt to me too, and why I was so uncertain about it. But if it still feels real to you, then it's a huge compliment and thank you so much for it. I'm really sad they aren't making a sequel too, because Eastern Promises ended on such a depressing note for Nikolai. I hope you enjoyed watching it now you have the full movie?

Thank you again, lovely. ♥