Summary: It would end in demotion and disgrace, but both Dolokhov and Anatole agreed it had been worth it purely for the expression on the policeman's face.
It was a riotous crowd that departed Anatole's house that night in search of further entertainment. Fuelled by a good meal and a considerable volume of good wine, not to mention in Dolokhov's case at least, an entire bottle of rum, they were in no mood to slip quietly through the streets, regardless of the hour.
It was a respectable area and few of the windows showed lights, at least until their noisy party had passed through, shouting, singing and frequently falling over each other. At the front marched Dolokhov and Anatole, towing an extremely inebriated Pierre between them, with an arm through each of his.
As they passed one particular house, a window was thrown up and an irate old man leaned out, wire-framed glasses hanging off his nose and nightcap askew. "What's all this noise!" he shouted at them. "Can't a man sleep?"
"It's Pierre in twenty years," Anatole remarked in an undertone to Dolokhov, who spluttered with laughter and toasted the stranger with the bottle of wine they'd been passing between them.
"Good evening sir! Can we interest you in the word of God?"
"What's that you say?" Taken aback, the old man peered down his nose at him, further surprised to realise several of the group were clad in army uniforms.
"Yes indeed." Anatole took up the thread with a laugh of delight. "We are doing the Lord's work. We are off this very moment to most - "
"Rigorously," put in Dolokhov helpfully.
"Vigorously, convert a group of young actresses known to us," Anatole finished, either mishearing or not. "Perhaps you would like to accompany us?"
"Be off with you! I'll have you arrested you scoundrels! Waking decent people up at this hour, you ought to be ashamed. Go to the devil!" He slammed the window shut again and could be seen standing just inside, glaring at them.
Dolokhov looked down at the half-empty bottle of wine, and then at the unopened bottle of brandy he'd been carrying in his other hand. It was considerably heavier, and he hefted it thoughtfully.
Passing the wine to Pierre, who had been watching all this unfold with the vague smile of someone for whom all this was a play put on purely for his entertainment, Dolokhov drew back his arm and hurled the brandy bottle towards the window.
Drawing back in horror just in time, the old man disappeared from view just as the glass came crashing in around him.
"Next time keep a civil tongue in your head," Dolokhov snarled.
Somewhat to his disappointment, but to Pierre's avid relief, the old man reappeared a second later staring through the ragged hole, apparently unharmed.
"Help! Police! Murderers!" he cried, as at that precise unfortunate moment a policeman did indeed appear in the street, drawn by the crash.
Several members of their party hurriedly made their escape, dashing away over the slippery cobbles in alarm.
Dolokhov arrogantly stood his ground, as did Anatole, who felt running away was beneath him and Pierre, who was too drunk to run in any case.
After a brief discussion through the shattered window, the policeman came over.
"Now then, what's all this? Disturbing the peace, destruction of property, threats of violence? It's the cells for you, I think."
Dolokhov made a jerky move forward but Anatole forestalled him, throwing out an arm to hold him back.
"My apologies officer," he said smoothly. "My friend's hand slipped. No offence was meant, there seems to have been something of a misunderstanding." Dolokhov opened his mouth to object, and Anatole stamped smartly on his foot, still smiling.
The policeman looked dubiously at them. On one hand there had clearly been more to the incident than this, on the other he was faced with a well-dressed young gentleman and an army officer, not the random pair of vagabonds he'd been expecting.
"Have the bill for repairs sent to my father, Prince Vasili Kuragin," Anatole added. "He will see that all expenses are met, for this most unfortunate incident."
The name served its purpose and for now the threat of arrest miraculously faded away, but it was still several minutes before they were allowed to leave, having been forced to suffer an extensive lecture and humiliating dressing down.
As they walked away Dolokhov was clearly seething, and Anatole kept a firm grip on his arm.
"We should have fed him his own hat," Dolokhov muttered.
"Let it go," Anatole laughed. "There's no sense in inviting trouble best avoided. Would you want to keep Yevgenia waiting?" Anatole named Dolokhov's favourite whore in the hope of distracting him, but Dolokhov suddenly stopped stock still and Pierre banged into the back of him.
"What is it now?" Anatole sighed.
"The brandy. It was a present. I promised her." Dolokhov looked back the way they'd come. "Do you think the bottle broke? It was quite thick glass. Maybe he would give it back to me?" He took a step forward and was hastily seized by both Anatole and Pierre.
"You go bothering that old fool again, you'll end up getting yourself hanged," Anatole advised, laughing. "You can get her another one."
"Where am I going to get brandy at this time of night?" Dolokhov complained.
Anatole shrugged. "Take her something else then. Besides, I'm sure she'll be happy enough with your money. My money," he corrected archly.
Dolokhov grunted. He didn't like breaking promises, at least those he had intended to keep. The image of Yevgenia flickered briefly through his mind, like a bright candle flame. She was by no means the most beautiful of the whores they frequented, having a livid wine-dark birthmark down one side of her throat, but she had a talent for making Dolokhov laugh in all but the bleakest of moods, and for this he favoured her above all the others.
No, he decided, he had promised her a present, and must take something to make her smile.
By now they were trudging up the side of the Moyka canal, and as the narrow street opened out into a square they heard the most peculiar noises echoing off the surrounding houses.
"Whatever is it?" Pierre asked, clutching at Dolokhov's sleeve in startled alarm. "It sounds like wild beasts!"
"Sounds like Dolokhov in the middle of intercourse if you ask me," Anatole laughed. Dolokhov shot him a dark look.
"Well, you'd know," he murmured. Anatole shoved him so he staggered into a snowdrift, and marched on ahead to see what the strange noises were.
"It's a circus!"
The square was crammed full of painted wagons and covered cages. The human inhabitants had apparently departed to sleep in nearby lodgings, leaving behind just one old watchman who could be seen fast asleep under a blanket, hugging an empty vodka bottle.
The rest of their party had fetched up here ahead of them, and in their curiosity had already pulled the sheeted coverings off some of the cages. In one, a bright-eyed tiger paced restlessly, occasionally pawing at the bars with an irritable coughing noise. Another held a troupe of monkeys, flinging themselves about excitably and howling, jeered at by the watching men.
As Anatole, Pierre and Dolokhov approached, the covering was torn from a third cage, and something dark and lumbering moved inside, annoyed at being disturbed.
"It's a bear," Pierre breathed, walking up to the bars in fearful fascination. Dolokhov came to stand at his shoulder, nodding slowly in consideration.
"A bear. Yes. That would do nicely," he mused.
"Nicely for what?" Anatole asked suspiciously. "Fedya, what are you plotting?"
Dolokhov turned to look at him, eyes full of amusement.
"I'm going to steal it."
"Steal it! Dolokhov, you can't!" This was Pierre, his eyes wide with something between admiration and horror.
"I can do anything I like." Dolokhov strode up to the cage and peered inside. The bear looked back, grunting softly as it sniffed the air between them.
"Are you entirely sure you've thought this through?" Anatole enquired, coming across to drape himself over Dolokhov's shoulder. "I mean, far be it from me to be the voice of reason, but getting mauled to death really wasn't on my list of things to do this evening." He let his hand slide inside Dolokhov’s coat, pinching his nipple through his shirt.
Dolokhov though had made up his mind, and was not a man to be dissuaded once set on a course of action. He examined the coupling of the wheeled cage, his intention being to simply hitch it up to a horse and tow the entire thing away. This plan was swiftly thwarted however, when he realised to get the cage out from those boxing it in would require a great deal of shuffling the surrounding wagons around first.
Too impatient to bother with this, Dolokhov looked further afield and spied an empty carriage sitting on the far side of the square. Instructing several of their number to liberate a pair of the circus horses from the pen, he turned his attention to the door of the cage. It was chained shut, but the chain wasn't particularly robust and he soon bent one of the links part using a convenient tent peg and brute force.
Agitated by the movement and attention, the bear was shifting from one side of his cage to the other, and even Anatole stepped back a pace as Dolokhov blithely swung the door open, beckoning the carriage towards them.
Despite the way lying open, the bear now stubbornly retreated to the far end of the cage and Dolokhov swore.
"Come on damn your fuzzy hide! What are you waiting for?"
"I don't think he likes you," Anatole called from a safe distance, sniggering.
Dolokhov snorted, and after thinking for a moment strode off towards a supply wagon, where several of their group had broken open a crate of wine and were making steady progress through it. Ignoring the offer of a bottle of his own, Dolokhov climbed right into the cart and could be heard searching through the contents with the occasional muffled curse.
After a couple of minutes he emerged looking victorious, clutching a large ceramic jar under one arm.
"What have you got there?" Anatole demanded. He was getting cold and bored, and was half minded to leave Dolokhov to it.
"Treacle," Dolokhov declared. "Let's see if men aren't the only creatures susceptible to bribery."
With that he took hold of the cage and swung himself right up inside, to an audible gasp from the men watching. Dolokhov had a reputation for being fearless, but to walk unarmed into a bear's cage seemed downright suicidal.
Inside, Dolokhov approached the bear slowly and steadily, taking care to make no sudden movements. The bear too was on a chain, but this was just looped around one of the bars and he simply unhooked it before crouching down and holding the open jar out in front of him, waving it to and fro.
After a second the bear started sniffing the air with sudden interest, and Dolokhov tilted the jar until a thick string of treacle dripped to the floor.
"That's it," he crooned softly. "Come and get your dinner, boy." He retreated a couple of paces and let another viscous puddle form on the floor of the cage.
By now the bear was on the move, overcoming its mistrust of the stranger's smell to snuffle eagerly through the straw in search of the promised sweetness.
Abruptly identifying Dolokhov as the source of the treacle, the bear made a sudden pace forwards, accompanied by a murmur of shock from the audience outside.
"Fedya!" Pierre called out in anxious warning, but Dolokhov didn't take his eyes off the bear, retreating steadily before it and still holding out the jar encouragingly.
Reaching the cage door he climbed out backwards, feeling his way, then dripped a trail of treacle across the intervening stretch of ground before climbing up into the carriage. He wedged the open jar in the doorway and climbed out the opposite side, circling round and waving the crowd back.
With a final grunt of satisfaction, the bear spied the treacle jar and climbed clumsily up the steps, making the carriage sway under its weight.
"Now!" Dolokhov cried, and accompanied by a few of the braver souls, Anatole and Pierre amongst them, he dashed up behind the bear and set his shoulder against its fur, heaving upwards with all his might.
With a growl of protest, the bear tumbled inside and they slammed the door hastily behind it.
"Quickly!" Dolokhov ordered. "Get the horses moving!"
Emboldened by their triumph they set off once more, laughing and singing and jostling each other to take turns peering in at the confused and increasingly irate bear.
They hadn't gone far however, when a figure stepped into the road to bar their way, demanding to know their business.
Dolokhov stiffened, recognising the policeman from earlier who'd given them such a talking to.
"I've got a surprise for you, my fine fellow," he muttered, baring his teeth in a vicious smile of delight.
"You again!" The policeman had recognised them, and came marching up. "What is the meaning of this? Where are you going with that carriage?" he demanded, knowing they hadn't been in possession of such a thing earlier and correctly suspecting them of having stolen it.
"I'm glad you ask," Dolokhov announced. "There's someone inside who would very much like to meet you."
The policeman looked up at the carriage in some consternation, observing that it was rocking violently despite being at a standstill. Before he could protest Dolokhov had reached up and pulled open the door.
The bear, sensing freedom from its confined and confusing new prison, immediately squeezed out of the door and dropped to the ground, growling irritably at the crowd pressing around it.
"Sir, this bear was in possession of a stolen carriage, I think you should arrest him," Anatole declared, trying to keep a straight face.
"Capital idea," Dolokhov agreed, and reached down to take hold of the chain still trailing from the bear's collar. "Let's help him clap old Bruin in irons."
To his dismay, the policeman found himself seized by many hands and unceremoniously bundled closer to the bear. Ignoring his furious protests, they swung him off the ground and to his horror right onto the back of the bear, lashing him down with lengths cut hastily from the carriage harness.
Laughing themselves weak at the struggling policeman, the mob harried the bear to and fro, finally driving it towards the canal. The bear seemed to sense the water meant freedom from his tormentors, and hardly pausing on the edge he threw himself in with an almighty splash.
"That," declared Dolokhov happily, leaning on the low wall and watching the bear paddling unconcernedly across the frigid river to a shallow flight of steps on the opposite side, still with the yelling policeman on its back, "may be the best thing I've seen all year."
Anatole clapped him on the shoulder. "That is technically the second present you've lost this evening though," he pointed out.
Dolokhov laughed. "The telling of it will be enough," he said. "Come on, let's get going. All this fresh air is sobering me up, and I object."
Having reached the warm sanctuary of the whorehouse, the men dispersed into various rooms with their preferred women. Anatole, Dolokhov and Pierre, with a few chosen others were lead into the main salon on the first floor and settled into the serious business of having a good time.
Sprawled on a couch with Yevgenia perched beside him in a dress that revealed more than it covered and Anatole sitting curled at his feet, Dolokhov regaled the room with the tale of the bear.
The other women shrieked and clapped in all the right places, and to Dolokhov's satisfaction Yevgenia laughed herself hoarse and didn't complain about the lack of promised brandy at all.
"You're not injured?" she asked, looking him over speculatively. "I mean, nothing needs attending to?"
Anatole gave a dirty laugh, but Dolokhov just spread his hands out in front of him a little ruefully.
"The only downside to the whole business is that I seem to be horribly sticky," he declared. "I'm covered in treacle from that damned jar."
At this, Anatole reached over and took one of Dolokhov's hands in his, drawing it up to his mouth. Dolokhov watched, dark-eyed, as Anatole took his fingers one by one and sucked them clean.
Used to the pair of them, Yevgenia wasted no time in unfastening Dolokhov's breeches. He was hard and ready, and she let her own dress slip partly from her shoulders, squawking with laughter as Anatole lifted her onto his lap.
Dolokhov reached up lazily to fondle one of her breasts, and watched avidly as she unlaced Anatole in turn. The sight of Anatole's cock sticking out of his clothing made Dolokhov shift impatiently, and he reached out with his free hand to tug at Anatole's shirt.
Anatole slid sideways obligingly until he was sprawled against Dolokhov on the couch. They gazed at each other knowingly, half-laughing.
"Here." Dolokhov beckoned Yevgenia closer, and she leaned in as he whispered to her, conscious that Pierre was nearby and paying more attention to them than to the woman in his own lap. "Our Petrushka seems lonely, don't you think?"
Yevgenia looked up and caught the eye of another girl across the room and jerked her head in Pierre's direction. With two mostly-naked women now vying for his attention he was soon distracted from watching his friends, and when one of them teasingly took his glasses and put them on herself, the room as a whole dissolved into a happy blur.
Seeing they were finally unobserved by anyone who mattered, Anatole gave in to the urge he'd been fighting ever since suckling on Dolokhov's fingers, and crawled forwards to kiss him.
Dolokhov's mouth was warm and inviting, the brush of his whiskers a guiltily arousing tickle against Anatole's clean-shaven face. Already erect, Anatole hardened further at the feeling of being pressed against Dolokhov's body, his cock chafing impatiently against the rough wool of his military coat.
By now Yevgenia's dress had made its way to the floor and Anatole sat up, his entire body throbbing with need, although not necessarily for her. Of the girls on offer here he privately preferred a dark-haired beauty named Clara who reminded him of his sister, but he frequently shared Yevgenia with Dolokhov. For one thing he knew Fedya was fond of her, and for another she never looked askance at their propensity for kissing each other as much as her.
Even here there were acceptable norms though, and Anatole resisted the temptation to indulge himself too blatantly. When he reached out to slide his hand around Dolokhov's cock, it was ostensibly only to hold it steady for Yevgenia to position herself over him.
Anatole could feel Dolokhov's eyes on him but didn't look up, keeping his own gaze fixed on Dolokhov's cock, watching it slowly disappear between Yevgenia’s legs as she sank down upon him. He was breathing harder than Dolokhov, and abruptly tore his gaze away, pulling Yevgenia into a roughly passionate kiss.
Shielded from prying eyes by Yevgenia's body, Dolokhov reached out and wrapped his fist around Anatole's cock, pumping him slowly with long, lazy strokes.
Anatole groaned, too far gone to stop him even if he'd wanted to. All he could do was watch hungrily as Dolokhov fucked the woman astride his lap, whilst savouring every second of the slide and pull of Dolokhov's calloused hand.
In a languid mood now, Dolokhov was entirely content to let Yevgenia do all the work, a fact she was equally happy with as it meant she was in control of the pace and could pleasure herself accordingly.
Nearing his climax, Dolokhov abruptly released his grip on Anatole's cock and pulled him down instead for a sudden and fervent kiss as he shuddered in orgasm, hips bucking urgently.
Driven to the brink from witnessing Dolokhov come, Anatole grabbed Yevgenia almost the very second she lifted herself off him and took her from behind, sliding in with a drawn-out sigh and taking a secret pleasure from knowing Dolokhov's own cock had been there but a moment before.
Already on the edge it took a minimum of short sharp thrusts before Anatole too was spilling his release, arms locked around Yevgenia's waist but his gaze fixed firmly on Dolokhov's laughing eyes.
Spent, he released her with a grunt and flopped down next to Dolokhov on the couch, who kissed him again with a quiet laugh and held an arm out for Yevgenia to settle against his other side. She pulled a rug down over the three of them, and lifted up a bottle of brandy from the floor.
Now they were quiet, the unmistakable noise of Pierre still mid-fuck somewhere behind them was audible, and Anatole craned his neck to steal a glance before settling back with a stifled laugh, reaching for the bottle.
"I think I prefer watching you fuck," he murmured to Dolokhov with a smirk.
Dawn was breaking when they finally arrived back at Anatole's house. Depositing a semi-conscious Pierre on a couch, Dolokhov was heading for bed himself when Anatole called him back.
"Fedya." He was waiting in the doorway to his own apartments, looking dishevelled and inviting.
Dolokhov walked slowly over to him, reading the silent question in his eyes. Without saying a word he kept moving forwards, forcing Anatole to retreat before him into the bedroom.
They were kissing almost before the door had closed behind them. If anything, the earlier sex had only served to stir them up into a state of heightened desire, frustrated by their proximity to each other without having been able to properly touch.
Anatole had dark shadows under fever bright eyes and Dolokhov's hands shook from tiredness and alcohol as he unfastened Anatole's shirt. They fell onto the bed together, kissing with a hungry desperation as they struggled out of the rest of their clothes.
"God I want you." Anatole buried his face against Dolokhov's chest, pushing him onto his back and indulging his pent up craving to explore the man's body with his hands and mouth.
Anatole's skin was pale and unblemished, and he adored the contrast it made with Dolokhov's, which told the story of countless battles with its network of scars. A soldier's body, Dolokhov had hard muscle where Anatole was belly-soft, and calluses where he was smooth and manicured.
Every time Dolokhov returned from a campaign Anatole would insist he showed him any new scars, committing the ever-changing map of his lover's body to memory. Dolokhov would tease him for his privileged and safely coddled lifestyle and Anatole would jeer at him for being a brutish man of war, but naked they were equals and cherished the other's body with a genuine appreciation for their physical differences.
Now, Anatole knelt between Dolokhov's legs and lifted them high, his oiled cock standing out proudly between them. Dolokhov's hand was already moving on his own in anticipation, gazing down the length of his body at where Anatole was preparing to take him, and making no protest. In this, at least, it suited him to let Anatole have his way.
Dolokhov closed his eyes, the movement of his hand briefly stilling as he concentrated on the feeling of Anatole pushing inside him and breathed deeply to ease the momentary discomfort and resist the involuntary impulse to tense.
"Fedya?" Dolokhov opened his eyes again at the quiet entreaty, and smiled. Anatole rarely bothered checking if he was okay with things, assuming correctly enough that Dolokhov would soon tell him if he wasn't.
"Take your fill, my ravishing little peacock," Dolokhov told him, and Anatole snorted, starting to fuck him in earnest. Dolokhov took himself in hand once more and started jerking himself off to the bold rhythm of Anatole's thrusts.
He studied Anatole as they fucked, his legs wrapped around the angle of his hips and resting on his backside. The man had a sly beauty to him that Dolokhov found enticing, and he was a tirelessly energetic and pleasingly depraved lover - but behind all of that there was a hint of emptiness about him, as if Anatole simply drank and fucked and gambled his way through life in an endless search for something to fill it. It spoke to a similar hollowness deep inside Dolokhov, and he and Anatole had somehow recognised this and cleaved to each other, without ever speaking of it.
Anatole was sweating and panting and cursing his way towards climax, adjusting his position the better to pound into Dolokhov's body. The change in angle abruptly escalated Dolokhov's own building orgasm and gripping his cock tightly he spilled thickly over his belly and chest.
"Fuck." Anatole swallowed heavily, redoubling his efforts until he too was coming in long hot spurts, his fingers digging into Dolokhov's thighs as he filled him.
Anatole pulled out shakily, slumping to the mattress beside Dolokhov who pulled the covers over both of them.
"Best whore of the night," Anatole said unkindly, patting Dolokhov on the shoulder. He always felt uncomfortably vulnerable whenever he suspected he'd revealed slightly too much of himself to Dolokhov and it inevitably came out as spikiness.
Dolokhov, however, was equally versed in bastardry.
"What do you think will happen tomorrow?" he mused. "When the law catches up with us?"
"What? Why should it?" mumbled Anatole, already half asleep.
"Well, you gave that policeman your father's name, after all," Dolokhov pointed out.
Anatole sat bolt upright, swearing. "What in God's name possessed me to do that? Jesus Fedya, this is all your fault. You had to break that man's window."
"I didn't ask you to pay for it," Dolokhov pointed out reasonably.
Anatole stared at him in consternation. "What are we going to do? We tied him to a bear for Christ's sake! What will happen to us?"
Dolokhov shrugged. "Oh who cares?" he drawled. "It was worth it, for the expression on his face."
Anatole conceded the point, relaxing slightly as he pictured it with a reluctant laugh.
"Don't you care about anything Fedya?" he asked curiously, seeing that Dolokhov genuinely wasn't apprehensive about what might happen.
Dolokhov looked at him for a long moment, reaching out to trace a surprisingly gentle finger along Anatole's cheekbone.
"No," he said, and turned over to go to sleep.