Warnings and notes: This fic contains violence, non-graphic references to previous nonconsensual situations, and large amounts of profanity. It was originally published on the kink meme under the title 'Red.' It is undergoing editing and reformatting.
Ivan had only just finally begun to relax - a warm fire, an icy bottle of vodka, and no one around for miles to bother him, no Party members or politik or Belarus - when a loud thump against the door interrupted his evening.
He rose to his feet, confused. There should be no one coming to his door, no one should even know he was here. That was the whole point of this; he wanted to be alone for a while. He had been so careful about it, too. He scowled.
He grabbed his pipe from where it rested against the doorframe, and yanked open the door, fully prepared to give the offending visitor a knock to the head and a speech on becoming one with Russia if he wanted to see Ivan so badly. If it were one of his boss's lackeys, come to fetch him back, so much the better, because damn it, he had been careful that no one would know he was here -
He stopped mid-swing when he realized there was no one standing there for him to bludgeon. That wasn't right. He frowned. There were tracks in the snow leading up to his door - red tracks and - Oh. There. On the doormat.
A person. After some close staring - there was a lot of blood to look past - he saw blond hair, a brown coat, and under it the remains of familiar red shirt.
He crouched to get a closer look at the injuries. Lots of dried blood on his face, but it was probably from a head wound, and those always bled badly, bruises, a nasty swelling on the side of his jaw. His eyes were closed. Ivan poked him, once, experimentally. No response.
"Canada?" he called softly. Nothing. What was his name again? He hadn't spoken to him in so long… M-something. Michael? Matvei? No. Matthew, that was it. "Matthew?"
He was still breathing. Nations were hard to kill. If he was still breathing, he'd probably live. Ivan stared at him a moment more, his eyes caught up in following the designs of blood smeared on skin, streaked through pale hair, like some kind of twisted modern art. His fingers followed, entranced, tracing them up and around and back. Matthew's skin was icy cold, pale, the bloody tracks standing out as vividly as if they'd been painted.
The wind whipped at Ivan, driving snow into his face and hair and down his shirt, unprotected by his coat. Right. The door.
Ivan dragged him over the threshold and into the house and shut the door soundly behind him. In the light the red stood out even more, and he looked at it closely, taking it all in. Who had done this? And why?
There was no obvious evidence here in front of him.
"Shto dyelat'?" he murmured to himself. ...i kto vinovat? He frowned at the body in front of him, puzzling over that, and his fingers were about to start tracing the bloodstains again, but the iciness of Matthew's skin shocked him awake. So cold. He wasn't even shaking.
He needed to warm up.
Ivan carefully picked him up and carried him to the bathroom in the back of the house. He turned on the tap in the tub and watched as the water sputtered, and sputtered, and finally decided to come out and warm up. He had a brief moment of thankfulness that he'd decided to modernize this place, at least a little.
While the tub filled, he rolled up his sleeves and set to removing Matthew's ice-crusted clothing. Carefully he got the heavy coat - made heavier by the weight of the snow - off him, and set it aside, and saw - oh. That shoulder didn't look right. He'd have to fix it.
The red shirt under Matthew's coat was ripped all over and more or less destroyed. It was simple to enlarge a few of the rips and get it off of him without further jostling the dislocated shoulder. Once the shirt was off, Ivan braced him and popped the joint back into place. It made an horrible familiar sound and would hurt when he woke up, but for the moment there were more important things to see to.
His trousers were also damaged, like the shirt had been, but they weren't quite so bad. Maybe he could mend them later. He didn't rip them like he had the shirt, instead taking the time to undo them and slide them off over Matthew's hips. And -
Bruises covered his hipbones, awful black-and-blue marks extending below the waistband of his shorts. The blood he found when he removed those wasn't a surprise. He took a moment to survey the injuries - lots of bruises, cuts, so much blood, he couldn't see it all clearly, but at least nothing else was popped out, no bones looked to be broken, no frostbite, by some unbelievable miracle of chance. All fixable, and fixable here, because Ivan wasn't leaving the house and giving them a chance to find him.
He picked Matthew up again and set him in the tub. The water almost instantly turned pink, but at least it would warm him, and warm him now while getting some of the blood off him in the process, so that Ivan could actually see what the hell he was fixing.
He sat back, chewing a thumbnail, and tasted the coppery tang of blood. Not his. He stared as the tub filled, sputteringly, and tendrils of red swirled through the steaming water, but the tub was taking a long time to fill and he didn't like sitting and staring at that much blood.
He got slowly to his feet and stared down for a moment. He felt like a looming giant, and Matthew was so small below him. Small and red and cold. He needed to do something.
He headed to the kitchen and grabbed a mug from the kitchen counter. The samovar had hot water in it already, good... and he couldn't find the tea. Was he out of tea? The teapot was empty. Not good.
He made a perfunctory check of the cabinets and decided tea could wait. Heat was more important than flavor, and the water was hot. Ivan filled the mug with that and headed back toward the bathroom, pausing on the way to grab his bottle of vodka, which he drank from as he walked.
Upon returning to the bathroom he saw that Matthew had slipped downward in the tub; his nose and mouth were centimeters away from the water - too close. With a curse, Ivan set down the vodka, and the water, and rushed forward to grab Matthew under the arms and haul him up.
Matthew's eyes opened, just a bit.
Ivan forced his face into a smile.
He not only screamed, he thrashed, sending a torrent of bloody water over Ivan and catching him in the head with a poorly-coordinated punch. He kept on screaming, and Ivan, stunned, let go of him, and backed away from the tub.
Matthew continued thrashing for a couple moments, stopping finally when his next punch met nothing but air. He curled into a ball, bringing his knees up to his chest. His breath came in short, stuttering gasps, and he couldn't get enough air in his lungs to keep screaming, though he tried, eventually making a keening sort of moan and going quiet.
Ivan watched him all the while, trying to collect his thoughts. "Matthew," he began slowly, "Do you know where you are?"
His eyes flicked towards Ivan, but he tensed, curling up tighter, and didn't make a sound. Ivan supposed that meant 'no.' "You are in Alaska. I have a house here. I found you at the door. You are injured." As he spoke, he moved closer to the tub. Matthew's eyes followed him, warily. "And you are very cold. I can help you, da?"
He made no sign that he understood. Ivan wondered if he should try speaking French. He hadn't actually spoken the language in a hundred years, but he remembered enough. "Vous êtes en Alaska. J'ai une maison ici."
Another not-quite-scream, and then Matthew hid his face against his knees and tried to bring up his arms to cover his head. The right one wasn't working properly. This was not the reaction Ivan had hoped for. He stared.
He went up to the edge of the tub again, slowly. "I will not hurt you." He wanted to know who had - oh, did he want to know - but that would have to wait. "Relax, yes? Uspokoytes'."
Even more slowly, he reached out and grabbed the mug of hot water he'd set down earlier. Still warm, at least. "You are cold," he repeated, and it out. "This will help to warm you up."
Matthew moved his hand away from one of his eyes, but didn't reach out. He eyed Ivan suspiciously.
"It is only water. I promise. You are too cold."
Finally, after several agonizing seconds, Matthew reached out one unsteady hand to take the mug.
Ivan smiled at him. "Good."
With that matter settled he turned away from Matthew, to rummage in the cabinets. They were well-stocked with supplies; he'd had need of them often enough, even here.
By the time he had that all arranged and turned back round, Matthew had drunk his water and set the mug down at the edge of the tub. He'd curled into a ball again, hiding his head. From that angle Ivan could see that his back was a mess, and wondered if he'd have to do any stitching. Before he could get to that though, the excess blood needed to come off, and give him a better view.
He approached the tub again, and had to reach over the edge to pull the stopper, and Matthew noticed this, and shrank away from him. He started to cry out but stopped when Ivan reached away to adjust the taps, and reached over again - a flinch from Matthew this time, but no noise - to grab the showerhead, and explained, "Your wounds need to be bandaged. I cannot do that until I can clearly see them, da? You have a lot of blood on you."
He watched Matthew intently. Finally, he nodded his head, a fraction of an inch. Ivan leaned over him - another flinch - set the showerhead to its lowest setting, and began to rinse off the blood. Matthew shook, whimpering.
"It is painful, I know," he murmured. "But it is necessary." Gently he used his free hand to take Matthew's arm and hold it away from his body, so he could get it clean. He followed suit with the other arm, and Matthew didn't protest, though he tensed up like mad and Ivan could see him biting his lower lip so hard he was sure it would break the skin, and then there would be more blood.
When Ivan asked him to unfold his legs, he refused.
"I have already seen those injuries, Matvei. I will not touch you there."
He didn't move. It took several minutes of cajoling him - and Ivan found himself speaking Russian at the end of it, because he was tired and he'd never been good at this sort of thing in English, anyways - but Matthew finally stretched out in the bathtub, so Ivan could get to work.
His legs weren't as bloody as the rest of him, but his hips and thighs were mottled black-and-blue. As Ivan rinsed them off he saw a red drop land on his arm and looked up to see Matthew crying. A thin trail of blood dripped down from his lip, where he'd finally broken the skin. Ivan stared at it a moment, before tearing his eyes away and resuming his work.
"Vsyo budyet khorosho, Motka," he murmured, "Vsyo budyet v poryadkye, da? Shh."
He finished up as quickly as he could, noting as he did that several of the wounds would probably need to be sewn shut. Whoever had done this hadn't done so systematically; there was no pattern to his injuries
Whoever had done this wasn't experienced with torture.
But who? That would have to wait. "Now we just need to bandage you," he said softly. Matthew didn't give any indication that he had heard.
Ivan got up and grabbed a stool from the corner of the bathroom along with several towels. Lucky they were dark-colored, he thought, blood always looked more shocking on white. He took Matthew's hand and after a minute or so managed to get him unsteadily to his feet.
He held out one of the towels and handed it to him straight away - "You can put this on," - and Matthew started trembling again and wouldn't look at him, but he wrapped the towel around his waist. He sat down when Ivan told him to - flinching, and Ivan didn't want to think about that - and Ivan sat on the edge of the tub, and patted off the excess water carefully with the other towels he had.
"It is almost over," he explained slowly, as he put his supplies in order, and uncapped the bottle of vodka. He could do with some, right now, he decided, and drank, before continuing. "What I am going to do next will hurt. Your injuries need to be disinfected and bandaged. Some of them must be stitched, da?"
Matthew blanched and Ivan wished fleetingly that he didn't have to do this. He drank, again, and a thought occurred to him.
He held the bottle up to Matthew's lips. "Drink," he said. "It will help you forget."
Shto dyelat' - What should I do? (lit. What is to be done?)
Kto vinovat - Who is to blame?
Uspokoytes' - Relax.
Vsyo budet khorosho - Everything will be fine
Vsyo budet v poryadkye - Everything will be okay