Dimitri had never been a big fan of winter. While the snow itself was beautiful, the cold was too sharp, too unforgiving for his taste. Icy roads had killed too many. The snow had trapped too many people that he had known to find the white that blanketed the open fields beautiful. Today was no exception even if the white he saw was marred with the broken bodies of boys that were too young to have ever felt a lover's touch and their blood stained the white a deep, ugly shade of red.

He understood the need for their suffering. It was him or them. But it still. The sight of so many children dead, whether by his hands or at the hands of his countrymen, was hard to take. He wasn't a soldier. Not many amongst their ranks were. Some were like these boys, barely old enough to be considered adults yet they were handed a weapon and thrown on the front. He himself was a hunter, a trapper who had been taken from his home and thrown into this godforsaken combat.

But Trofim hadn't even been that. The man had been their village's local tailor. He was a thin, frail looking creature who was made of strong enough metal that he had found the hardships of living far from the cities to be something of a comfort. He had never carried a gun. He had handled furs but never killed the animal himself. The horrors of war, the inhumane cruelty of mankind in such desperate conditions, hadn't been something he had remotely been prepared for. As much as he liked the younger man, Dimitri wasn't entirely sure if he'd be able to handle the strain on his mind, body and soul.

The gunfire had long since faded. The tanks had pulled back. The enemy was tucked away in their camps. Dimitri was finally allowed off the battlefield and given leave to head back toward his tent. The winter storm was coming closer. He could feel it in the way the icy wind seemed to claw at his cheeks and already numb ears. The dark storm couldn't be seen now that the sun had set. He was lucky there were enough lanterns lit that he could find his way back to the foxholes he and Trofim had claimed as their beds for the night.

The hunter had no illusions. Not about this. He could feel the cold, even through his clothes. The warmth of the sun had chased some of the cruel winds away but with it set, that warmth had faded and the temperatures began to drop. His hands could barely feel the cold weapon he held. His feet could barely feel the frozen ground beneath his feet. If he was lucky, he'd survive the night tonight with his fingers and toes intact enough that he could fight another day but judging from how cold he was now he didn't see that being a realistic possibility.

By the time he found the foxholes, he could feel himself shivering violently. He didn't care if the others learned the truth of the nature of his relationship with Tomfim at this point. He could see lightning in the distance and hear the rumble of thunder a few minutes after it. He could feel a sharp pang of fear in his heart. A lump formed in his throat. His every instinct was screaming for him to find shelter but there was none to be had. The unit was too ill equipped for everyone to have some form of protection from such weather.

The sound of teeth chattering pulled him out of his thoughts and drew his attention to the slender man sitting one of the foxholes, curled up as tightly as he could manage in order to protect himself from what icy wind the edges of the foxhole couldn't shield him from. He had snow dusting his uniform and littering his black hair, now filthy from having gone days without a proper washing, and his pale face had the beginnings of a beard covering his neck and jaw. His thin fingers, exposed to the cold, were blue and clearly frost bitten, as were his ears and the tip of his nose. Dimitri knew that if the pulled the man's boots off, he'd find the man's toes were not in much better condition. He was visibly shivering where he lay amongst the snow and his dark eyes were closed as if he was concentrating.

The hunter felt a wave of sadness crash over him. This wasn't right. Tomfim shouldn't be the young man shivering in that foxhole, dying of cold so far from his home. He had been a rare, gentle soul. His last dreams shouldn't have been of blood, agony and death –death caused by his own hand.

Dimitri slung his gun over his shoulder and settled into the other half of the foxhole. It felt warmer but not by much. The thunder from the storm sounded closer. At the moment he didn't care. He reached out with numb hands and pulled the man he loved against his chest. Tomfim didn't waste a minute's time. Frost bitten hands pressed against his warmth and a cold nose sought warmth by his neck. Dimitri tightened his arms around his beloved. He could feel just how violently that much thinner body was shivering. He was shivering badly himself.

"You're alright now," he said softly, just loud enough to be heard over the wind as it pulled the storm closer. Already the first flakes of snow were falling. His numb fingers tightened in the folds of his lover's clothes. "I've got you. For now, it's over. We're safe. We're fine. I have you, Tom, I have you and I love you."

How often he repeated those words he didn't know. His throat started to ache as his shivering grew worse. He closed his eyes as the snow began to fall harder. He didn't want or need them to cool his eyes. He could still see the lightning flashing overhead. His ears rang with the thunder. But he kept speaking, if only to assure himself that he still lived, even if Tom didn't respond much. The fact he still responded from time to time, gave Dimitri hope.

Slowly, Tomfim's shivering eased. He sounded tired when he spoke, so tired. Dimitri couldn't find it in himself to be concerned. It was late and he too was getting sleepy. The wind didn't feel as cold around him. In fact, he could barely feel it. The snow was starting to form a blanket over them. He didn't mind. He didn't feel cold anymore. Something in the back of his mind said that that was a bad thing but he didn't care. He needed to make sure Tomfim was comfortable if not warm, regardless of what happened to him.

He turned his head to press a kiss to the soft skin of his beloved's face. He could barely feel the skin he kissed but he knew it was far colder than it should be. He had barely the energy to shed a tear over it as the snow continued to slowly pile over them. Tom wouldn't have to face the battle tomorrow, at least. There was that small mercy. He'd never have to kill again and lose yet another piece of his humanity to this godforsaken war. Dimitri couldn't help but be happy with that.

He shifted closer still, holding his (too still, too cold) beloved tighter against chest as he closed his eyes. He was so tired. He'd need to rest if he was going to face the enemy tomorrow, if he was going to avenge the humanity the enemy had taken from his lover's soul in more ways than one. So Dimitri relaxed and gave in to his body's demand for sleep, even as the storm raged around him and Tomfim. He didn't notice when he stopped fighting for breath. He didn't feel panic as his heart slowed to a stop and ice formed in his blood. He passed in his sleep, just as his lover did; finally at peace even in the midst of a great war.