1997, REBEL STRONGHOLD
pain was like nothing ever before, as if his legs
had been ripped off on impact, but worse, much worse,
and Hooch knew that he was fucked. He tried to get
out of the tangle of parachute and lines, but the
pain from his hip and pelvis was so bad, he blackened
out for a second.
against the ground, trying to pull away the moment he
came to, he pushed himself up to look at his legs, expecting
a mass of bones and gore, but nothing. Yet he couldn't
use them to get up and when he tried again, he screamed
in agony. He knew, then, that he'd got it this time.
heard voices and the sound of engines, rapidly getting
closer. He frantically cut the entangled parachute ropes,
managing to wriggle out of the harness, trying to get
out of there. He pulled himself forward on his belly,
using his hands, determined to never give up, when they
broke through the thicket and a boot stamped onto his
hand, amidst angry shouting. Others started to kick,
again and again, his head, shoulders, legs, arms and
finally his hips.
it went black, and the pain didn't matter anymore.
Hubert, Sergeant First Class, 546798362." Hooch
forced out, for the tenth or twelfth time. He'd lost
count. Lost count, too, of the number of times he'd
lost consciousness out when they dropped him, the excruciating
pain in his pelvis too much to bear. Or the number of
times he'd fought for his life, struggling for air,
when his head had been pulled back out of the water
butt. Or the number of blows and kicks that had pounded
onto his defenseless body, rendering his face a bloodied
and swollen mess. Worse than any session, anything he'd
ever had done to him. This was real, and more destructive
than anything else in his life had ever been before.
voice shouted once more in broken English: "why
did you come here, what are your plans, who else is
here, who has given the orders, what are your orders,
who are you," and why and what and wherefore. All
he could find in himself was the groaned, whimpered,
cried out, screamed and whispered answer:
Hubert, Sergeant First Class, 546798362."
couldn't get any of the information out of him that
they were looking for. No matter how much they beat
him, how many cigarettes they extinguished on his body,
and how often he passed out from the unspeakable pain
of being dropped onto a broken pelvis.
He didn't know most of those answers, could only hope
that he wouldn't have told. he had known. Nothing to
say, nothing to admit to, except for:
Hubert, Sergeant First Class, 546798362."
audible at times, and hardly human.
had no idea how close he was to getting killed, didn't
realize that the faction that had captured him was warring
with another that wanted to see a better use of the
captured resource: him. The resource that would humiliate
the US further. Once they'd understood that he wouldn't
talk couldn't talk, he could still be useful. As long
as he was alive.
pulled him out of his stupor once more, and he didn't
resist, knew it was useless anyway. He couldn't move
his legs, didn't dare to twitch lest he fell unconscious
again from the pain, and being unconscious meant another
barrage of mindless beating. He hardly recognized the
camera that was pointed at his face, but when he did,
he defiantly raised his head, angry, snarling, but all
that came out was a pathetic whimper before a boot impacted
in his middle, once the camera was switched off, and
he let out a hoarse scream, passing out, cold, on the
of bodies, a small room. One single source of air and
light from a tiny, iron-clad window high above. Hundreds
and hundreds of bodies, so crowded none of them could
do anything but stand.
space, and he couldn't sit, couldn't lie, forced to
stand, and the pain was unbearable. So was the stench,
the filth, the heat and the smell of death and decay.
Excrement, piss from the guards, shit and blood and
fear from the prisoners. He couldn't move, unable to
get to the little water that was given out, brackish
and teeming with parasites.
One option was death.
to stand and die of pain, death to lose the fight and
be trampled underfoot, death to ingest the contaminated
food and water, death not to gain any sustenance, and
death to go insane.
other was pain.
was better. Pain didn't kill. If Hooch knew anything,
he knew that. He'd learned it scripted into his flesh
and blood, and knew, too, that pain always brought relief
in the end. Even if it was only the relief of its absence.
refused to be one of the corpses that were shuffled
towards the front every morning. The prisoners who had
died in the night and whose bodies were handed from
one to another, to be thrown outside. Somewhere. Anywhere.
Didn't matter, just corpses.
mattered, though. Mattered to the memories of a young
man who laughed and joked, who shared his bed and his
thoughts, who touched him and kissed him, who sometimes
fucked him and always offered his body. That perfect,
sculpted, smooth body without a single scar. That man
who'd told him he'd always be there, always be waiting
and would always want him. That man to whose image Hooch
clung, every time he blackened out from the pain, pissed
and shat into his torn uniform, and threw up from the
stench and the little he managed to get into his stomach.
1997, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AM and Matt sat bleary eyed at the breakfast counter
in his kitchenette, shoveling corn flakes down his throat
while watching CNN. Half-heartedly listening to whatever
was going on on the screen, while reaching for the carton
of milk to pour into his cereal before it got soggy.
The milk never hit the bowl.
soldier. Special Forces. Captured. Video. Demands.
put the carton back down onto the table, reached for
the remote to up the volume, but stalled in mid-motion,
when the badly done video flickered onto the screen,
showing a soldier, soiled US uniform, no name tag, no
rank nor affiliation insignia. Face bruised, bloodied,
hardly resembling a man anymore. The broken body was
held up into the camera while the man's head threatened
to roll back, but then he lifted it, opened his eyes
Matt jumped up, the remote clattered across the table
and onto the floor, followed by the bowl of cornflakes.
Bloodied. Beaten. Injured. Tortured.
1997, REBEL STRONGHOLD
Hooch was thrown back into the cell, he didn't have
the strength to scream anymore. The pain had worn him
down, out and gone, a shell that hardly managed to cling
to those images that had kept him sane. He could see
nothing in his memories but flashes of a smile, and
a joke he could not remember either. Yet this time,
before he hit the bulk of bodies, he was caught by arms
that held him up, and dark eyes that searched his own.
A voice asked, rough and worn, like his own. If only
he hadn't screamed that much and still had the strength
hand pushed something against his lips. He wanted to
turn his head away, but more hands held him steady and
the first ones poured liquid down his throat. Liquid.
Water. Or at least something akin to it, and he swallowed
greedily. Taste didn't matter anymore. Life. Death,
he had almost lost the zest for either. Existing, barely.
didn't question why they helped the foreigner. He only
knew that a pair of arms was holding him up, then three,
four, and more, keeping his body off the ground, away
from the feet that might trample him to death underneath,
should he fall and give up from the pain of standing
wedged in between hundreds of bodies; standing with
a broken pelvis.
It was the first time he fell asleep for several minutes
at a time, the first time in days and nights he kept
the little strength he still had.
1997, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
was well after 7 AM, but Matt didn't care that he'd
get the bitching-out of his career, for not turning
up to work in time. Couldn't go in, couldn't explain.
Hooch was not just a 'best buddy', but he could never
admit to it. Matt's hands were shaking and he felt sick,
barely keeping himself from throwing up.
had hit him with a sledgehammer. All the way to the
core, and the image of Hooch's broken body and disfigured
face, barely alive, had imprinted itself on his mind,
until he was unable to see nor smell nor feel anything
had to keep himself together somehow and head into work.
It was the not-knowing, the keeping up appearance and
pretending to wear the mask, that was the worst. But
he kept going, stuck in the US.
he could do was wait.
1997, REBEL STRONGHOLD
screams reverberated through the compound. The last
man had found his worst weakness, and was manipulating
his hips with both hands.
couldn't breathe, think, couldn't faint either, because
every time the darkness swallowed him, he was beaten
awake, and it was impossible to say which pain was worse.
Until it started all over again, those hands, his hips,
and the movements that brought him out in cold, stinking
sweat; made him foam and splutter and his eyes roll
back as he forgot everything about himself and anything
that had ever mattered. Screaming, as if the sounds
from his hoarse throat could alleviate the pain.
it open, tear it out and scatter it to the winds.
never worked. Each scream returned to his body, this
finite entity that was fragile, weak, and could hardly
breathe, let alone force out those words, again and
again: "Bozic, Hubert, Sergeant First Class, 546798362."
broke his arm when he tried to protect himself, and
he finally passed out. Nothing could wake him, he didn't
hear the angry voices, nor witnessed the arguments,
didn't feel the kicks to his kidneys, and didn't know
when he was thrown back into the crowded cell that contained
those inexplicable acts of human kindness.
didn't fall couldn't fall. Too many bodies, those of
the dead, the dying and those who were still living
against all odds. He didn't care anymore, except for
those thoughts that still remained. The number. The
name. The face, the body, the smile, even though he
couldn't remember the voice anymore.
could no longer protect his head or face with his arm,
and perhaps he should have simply let them kill him
by smashing his face and grinding his brain into the
ground, but he couldn't. Just couldn't allow it, not
for what? Returning to that hellhole
that didn't allow breathing, that had the guards above
use the prisoners' bodies as latrines. Filled with the
unbelievable stench for which he had no words, no thoughts,
except for 'everything'. It was all and everything and
everywhere around him, like a thick molasses that made
it impossible to draw in air.
time, he let himself fall back into the bodies, not
trying to find leverage nor hold himself up. Not fighting
the pain nor the ultimate relief that would come once
he'd slipped low enough, with enough bodies and weight
on top of him, to stop breathing forever
arms were back and pulled him up. He protested, didn't
want them to, how dared they, how
pushed against his lips. He opened them, no strength
left to find out what it was, and simply swallowed.
Whatever. Food. Water. Poison. Excrement, it didn't
matter. Liquid followed, and again he swallowed, head
rolling from side to side, until he managed to focus,
his eyes no more than swollen slits, met by another
pair, so dark, before he lost his sight and slipped
out of pain, fear, stench and filth, and whatever was
crawling across his body, and living inside himself.
Slack in the many arms that held him up, until the morning,
when against all odds he once again was not amongst
those who got shuffled towards the front, out of the
door and onto the pile.
almost passed out again when he was pushed through the
bodies, towards the front. Clinging to consciousness
with the thought that he would not be another corpse
to be discarded. No. He wouldn't. He would survive another
bout of torture. But instead of being pulled out and
taken to be interrogated again, nothing happened. Partly
being held up, partly leaning against the solid mass
of bodies, he looked up, blinking against the sudden
light. It hurt. Hurt his eyes, and a thought wormed
its way into his broken mind: astonishment that anything
could hurt in a new way.
First Class Hubert Bozic, US Delta Force?" A female
was pretty, he thought, once his eyes had adjusted to
the light, and he wondered why the hell the last shreds
of his memories of the young man had been replaced with
a woman. Blond. Face illuminated by something. Flashlight.
Not sunlight. Hurting his eyes. Still.
you understand me?"
nodded, the question didn't require him to speak. The
name and number were the only answers left in his mind
anyway, everything else had been burnt away. Beaten
and kicked, punched, drowned and smashed away. Or just
died away, amongst the stench of decay and the agony
that only those arms could alleviate.
have to tell me your name." The voice insisted,
foreign, and Hooch, unable to find
one single clear thought, couldn't understand why he
noticed the accent.
Hubert, Sergeant First Class, 546798362." Name.
Rank. Number. Hardly audible. That was it. Another round
of interrogation, all a trick, but at least it didn't
hurt right now. Not yet.
no pain followed, instead he felt himself moved, carefully,
oh so carefully, and yet he cried out hoarsely. Hardly
a sound came out, even though his screams reverberated
in his head, and then he was placed onto something.
Lying down. Flat. On his back. The moment he was horizontal
on the stretcher and the pressure was taken off the
broken pelvis, he passed out. Again.
he came to, he was in a different place. A room. Lying
on the ground. Space. No stench. After a moment he made
out the woman's face again, crouched beside him. Someone
else, a man, touching him, and the touch felt strange.
It took him a moment to realize the man was wearing
you understand me, Sgt Bozic?"
smiled and nodded. "Hooch, of course. Did you understand
what I said earlier? I am a delegate from the International
Committee of the Red Cross, and I brought a medical
doctor with me, Dr Mirabeau. We are here to ensure that
you are being taken care of, Sgt
" she stopped
so hard to form words beyond name and number, "have
not if we can help it, and trust me, we can help it.
The rebel force has contacted us to negotiate on their
behalf and your country has agreed."
me what happened, while Dr Mirabeau is working on making
you more comfortable."
looked at her, hardly noticing how the soiled uniform
was cut off him, and how he was cleaned down. Telling
her, best he could, what had happened and what he knew;
what had been done to him and how he'd survived. He
was put on a drip, cleaned up and sponged down, fed
water clean, clear water and given bites of food. Shot
full with antibiotics, his arm was set and fixed with
plaster, his wounds treated and bandaged, and powder
and potions administered, to kill the parasites that
had taken residence in his weakened body. His pelvis
stabilized with a brace, after some clean and simple
clothes were put onto him, Hooch was allowed to write
an open letter. He hardly managed, his hand shook too
badly, too weak to hold the pen, but she helped and
they gave him time, precious time. A letter to his family,
but how much he wanted to write to his lover instead.
His family had to do, hoping that somehow, against all
odds, it would reach the one to whom it actually mattered
if he lived or died.
folded the sheet of paper, to show it to Hooch's captors
for censor, before it was sent off to the American Red
Cross. She briefly smiled down at him. "Hooch,"
it was comforting to hear his name, he thought, no longer
a faceless number, "your friends are thinking of
ghost of a smile crossed his face as painkillers were
shot into his body. By that time he was drifting, barely
taking in how she explained they would make sure he
was treated right while they were going to work as neutral
intermediaries. When they finally left, he lay on his
back, unmoving, a blanket over his body, and a bottle
of water and edible food beside him. Clean. Lying down.
No arms to hold him up, no fingers to feed him rotting
scraps. No one. Just silence. Sleep. Exhaustion. The
memory of someone so dear
the only memory that
had survived. He slept, undisturbed, without those who
had saved his life by holding him up and who continued
to fight on every day and night to stay on their feet
and stay alive, with no one to save them.
didn't know that she was throwing up outside. Didn't
hear her retch and didn't see the doctor wordlessly
handing her a packet of tissues.
was asleep, for the first time in an eternity in hell,
and he knew that from now on he would not simply vanish.
He had a name, a face, and a number that was known to
the world, not just to his captors. No corpse to be
shuffled out in the morning. No nameless body, burnt
or ditched, and no faceless being, contorted in pain,
dying alone, to be missing in action.
had a name. He had become part of the machinery. The
old lady in Geneva, as she had called it, would take
care of him. He trusted that old lady.
she was all he had.
was not aware of the negotiations that happened outside.
With the ICRC as neutral intermediary, the rebels had
already gained what they wanted: the humiliation of
the US, via its military, and that humiliation was broadcasted
across the world on the news channels that had been
greedy enough to ignore the rules of ethical behavior.
was push and pull for a while, until the rebels agreed
his release, under conditions and demands that never
saw the light of day outside of some US headquarters.
1997, MILITARY HOSPITAL, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
sat on the plastic chair beside the bed. Legs braced,
knees open, his cap on the small side table. Hands trembling
so hard, he'd been gripping his own thighs since he
sat down, to keep himself from touching.
Pale, thin and haggard, with buzz-cut head and badly
shaved face. Lying on a water bed to keep the pressure
off the pelvic area, supine and still, the lower left
arm in plaster, and all Matt could think of was how
much Hooch hated to sleep on his back.
The pelvic brace was just about visible under the sheet
that had been draped over Hooch, and a drainage tube
vanished beneath the cloth. Matt could see glimpses
of small burn wounds on the chest, looking closed but
angry, and he wanted to hurt whoever had done that.
Alive against all odds, and all he could do was sit
there, push a small portable DVD player into the other
man's good hand and pretend he was just a buddy, paying
a visit. He tried to come up with some stupid bullshit
a buddy would utter and failed. miserably. He couldn't
get a single word past that fucking lump in his throat
that he couldn't swallow down, no matter how hard he
tried, and it hurt like a motherfucker. Couldn't even
look at Hooch, who was checking out the pack of DVDs
by lifting each one to eye level. Looking at him caused
the sting in Matt's eyes to get worse and he stared
at his white-knuckled hands instead.
Hooch's husky drawl tore Matt out of his catatonic state.
The voice sounded disused and hoarse.
wanted to touch, kiss, hold, reassure himself that Hooch
really was there, alive, but all he did was press out
a desperate: "shit!" He couldn't keep it up
anymore. Fuck the charade, he wanted to curse or cry,
or maybe even laugh. Insanely.
trembling hand raised to his face, his head dropped,
elbows on his thighs, and he covered his face with his
hands when he couldn't stop the silent sobs that were
heaving his chest and shaking his shoulders. He made
no sound, except for one strangled choke. He couldn't
get his goddamned act together, despite being all too
aware of having nothing but a thin cloth partition between
Hooch's bed and the next. In a ward full of nurses,
soldiers, and their visitors.
remained silent, left hand in his lap, the right on
his chest. Silent, as long as it took Matt before he
finally drew in a shaky breath, fighting out of the
breakdown with all the strength he could muster. Too
much truth, too raw, too open. He rubbed his face vigorously,
realizing that he couldn't go back to pretending he
was nothing but a goddamned buddy. Eyes red rimmed,
Matt studied Hooch's impassive face, the dark eyes,
and the whole silent man. Don't ask don't tell had never
been that much of an issue before, until now. He'd gone
insane with the not-knowing and the fear of loss. Not
just a buddy, not even a fuck-buddy, but the man he
loved. He couldn't deal with the lie any more, but he
was tied to its confines.
shook his head, unable to say what he thought, let alone
what he felt.
didn't say anything either, looking up at Matt, without
that Matt had expected anything, and he shrugged, once
again shaking his head. Suddenly feeling misplaced,
as if this whole shit had happened to someone else and
he had stumbled into a crazy soap opera. He was about
to get up and get away, when Hooch opened his mouth,
and Matt stayed put, leaning down, to hear the quiet
it got really bad, when nothing else got me through,
I was thinking of you. How you tilt your head when you
laugh; the way you eat your cereal really fast so that
it doesn't go soggy; how you squint your eyes and scrunch
up your face into a grimace, every time anyone mentions
eggs." Hooch dropped his voice even more, until
Matt had to lean closer to hear the whisper. "Your
shit-eating grin when you wave your ass into my face,
telling me to fuck you. The sound you make when you
come, going straight to my cock and blowing my mind.
The smell of your sweat right after sex
Hooch paused, pulling in a careful breath. "When
I wasn't sure if I could make it through another hour,
I thought of your face that looks so damned young when
you're asleep, and I remembered how you sometimes say
my name, and how the sound of your voice makes me ache
fell silent and Matt stared at him. Wide-eyed, frozen
in shock. Insides churning, a pain he hadn't known before,
travelling from his heart throughout his body, and it
felt so fucking good. Understanding with every fiber
of his being what Hooch had said in too many words.
More than he'd ever used before, and without those three
simple ones that would have sufficed.
felt his eyes sting again but a smile grew on his face.
Too much emotion again, but of an entirely different
kind. "I don't
" his voice trembled,
"scrunch up my face." Couldn't trust his voice,
as shaky as his hands.
grinned, he looked as if he had shrugged had that not
hurt too badly.
I do." Matt whispered, "but it's better than
throwing your underwear onto the wet bathroom floor."
let out a dry huff of laughter, grimacing at the slight
jostling of his body.
fell quiet again. Companionable now in the silence,
looking at Hooch while vigorously wiping his eyes, then
settling into a wobbly grin. They sat like that for
a long while. Hooch checking out the small DVD player,
Matt helping him, a damn fine excuse to touch now and
then, while every movement could be overlooked by the
more minutes." One of them announced as she walked
past. Just a few more minutes before he had to leave
and fly back to his own camp.
suddenly murmured, "I want to hear that sound again."
and voice twisting Matt's guts in the most delicious
way. "You will," he whispered.
nodded, lips quirking up in the customary half-grin,
before he reached out and took Matt's hand for a moment.
Holding longer than a buddy should.
1998, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
weeks later, Hooch was let out of hospital and into
subsequent aftercare. Refusing to go back to Fort Bragg,
where he wouldn't have anyone take care of him and would
have to get hospitalized again, and equally refusing
to be taken to his family's ranch in Texas, he demanded
to be sent to a friend instead. In his special circumstances,
the request had been granted. That friend had a small
apartment and time to take care of him which he lied
about and who was willing to take over the task which
was nothing but the truth. He had been flown to the
nearest town, then taken in an ambulance to the local
having been checked over, signed in as an outpatient
for physiotherapy and set up with crutches, walker,
and been put into a wheelchair, he was given transport,
which took him to Matt's apartment. Matt was still on
base, working, and would arrive in an hour.
somehow managed to get into the elevator, and with the
help of walker and crutches back out again, and into
the wheelchair. Being able to get about, no matter how
laborious and painful it was, gave him a sense of freedom
that was unparalleled to anything he'd experienced since
Matt returned home, Hooch was lying flat on the bed,
fully dressed, but with the remote in his hand and channel
surfing. He was glad that Matt had no idea how he'd
cried out when he'd got himself out of the wheelchair
and onto the bed, for the first time on his own and
without any supportive aids. He'd succeeded, though,
and the independence had made up for all the pain. Ignoring
that he'd left the drugs in the living room and really
couldn't face getting up, not even for a piss.
Matt called out from the hallway.
the bedroom." Even shouting caused pain and Hooch
rolled his eyes at the annoyance of it all.
couple of seconds later Matt stood in the doorway. Still
in uniform, running a hand over his scalp. The smile
on his face grew bigger and bigger until it lit up his
whole face, grinning from ear to ear. "Shit, never
thought I'd be so glad to see you in my bed, even though
you try taking the fucking socks off with that."
Hooch pointed at the pelvic brace over his jeans. When
his shirt sleeve moved up, Matt saw that the plaster
I?" If possible, Matt's grin grew.
my socks off?" Hooch groused.
dickhead, the brace. I promise to put it back on."
could start with the socks." Hooch grinned, peering
up, head raised with the two pillows on Matt's bed.
"Or with yourself."
I could do that, or I could kiss you."
much I can do about that." Hooch's grin almost
matched Matt's by the time Matt was beside the bed,
kneeling on the floor, and proceeded to kiss Hooch until
either of them gave up or gave in, but neither did,
and so they kissed until they were both breathless.
did I hurt you?" Matt's alarm was almost comical.
just too horny."
grin was part relief and part wickedness. "I can
do something about that
" His hands were on
the brace and then Hooch's trousers, but when Matt pulled
on the jeans, Hooch got jostled and had to clench his
teeth not to groan. Matt slowed down, and together they
managed to get them off, same with the briefs, until
Matt could take off the socks while Hooch was getting
out of the shirt himself. When Matt came back up to
look down at Hooch's naked body, for the first time
in months, he was shocked at what he saw. Trying valiantly
to hide it, but too late.
know." Hooch drawled.
Nothing Matt could say, and so he ran his hand over
the far too thin body that had lost muscle mass and
definition, but none of its allure. Not all of the tan
was gone, and the surgery scar, still fairly fresh,
stood in stark relief. No better than the burn wounds,
those small round dots that were scattered across Hooch's
upper body with no sense nor pattern.
get back into shape. I'll make you a recovery PT program
when you can use the gym." Matt looked up, smiling.
Hooch commented drily.
at least we have proof you're alive." Matt cocked
his head, flashed a grin and pointed at Hooch's erection.
"Been a while, right, buddy?"
I remind you, then." Matt moved down, his lips
touched Hooch's cock, tongue drawing out and lapping,
eliciting the deep groan that Hooch had suppressed earlier.
His lips closed around the cut head, intent on sucking
down, when Hooch awkwardly batted at him.
Matt came up, surprised and confused, "why not?"
Can't get tested yet."
" Shock, fear, worry and
confusion warred in Matt's face. "But they didn't
they didn't, but in that shithole
I had open wounds.
Anything could have gone in. Blood, saliva, shit, piss,
anything." Hooch's eyes were intense, haunted,
and Matt twitched visibly. The glimpse of the horror
was almost worse than knowing the full extent.
risk must be almost none."
had every other crap, though."
not that, come on, it's not possible."
don't care." Hooch reached for Matt's shoulder,
managed to pull him closer. "I'm not going to risk
you. You understand?"
at Hooch for a moment, Matt nodded slowly, acknowledging
the ache that was gripping his insides. Heart or guts,
he wasn't sure, just this ache that intensified the
longer he looked at Hooch. "Okay."
suck you with a condom."
no more goddamned rubber." Too many gloves that
had touched him in the hospital.
nodded, got up and onto the bed to very carefully stretch
out beside Hooch, still in his full uniform, boots and
all. Managing not to jostle the mattress too much, he
propped himself up on his elbow, grinning down at Hooch
while his free hand began to lightly stroke the cock
that had lost its erection. "Let's see how still
you can lie
moved down to kiss Hooch again, whose hand found its
way to Matt's neck. Holding close, smelling, tasting,
touching, and needing so goddamned much to feel alive,
Hooch ignored the pain. Matt stroked faster, adding
twists and using everything he'd ever known about Hooch's
Hooch felt his balls draw up and the pain of his orgasm
almost blackened him out. He cried out, nearly a scream,
which Matt swallowed in a deep kiss, not realizing that
part of Hooch's desperate attempts to remain still and
his complete abandon was the blinding pain in his pelvis,
fuelling the orgasm itself.
drew back, hand still on Hooch's cock, as he grinned
down on him, watching him pant for breath, face sweaty,
and something in Hooch's expression that he'd never
seen before. Something above and beyond mere lust. Being
alive, maybe that was it.
alright?" Matt murmured.
shit. Couldn't be better." Hooch grinned, started
to laugh and stopped himself immediately. Laughing was
alright." Matt smiled, wiping his hand on the bed
Hooch looked at him.
me." Matt laughed, "but how?"
want to watch. Stroke yourself."
nodded, eyes alight. "Guess I can do that."
He was soon kneeling on the bed, in full view, opening
his BDUs and pushing down his briefs. Cock in hand,
he began to stroke, all the time looking at Hooch, who
didn't take his eyes off him.
to see you." Hooch murmured, and Matt obliged.
Ripping the tunic off, the t-shirt flew to the ground
straight after, then returned to stroking himself. Muscles
rolling and bunching beneath smooth skin. Perfectly
chiseled and still as unblemished as the first time
they'd had sex, in a safe house in the Gulf. Matt craned
his head back, being watched intensified every sensation,
and he slowed down for Hooch's benefit, while tensing
his abs and working with his body until each and every
muscle stood out, as hard as his cock. When he sped
up once more, his movements turned harsh, punishing,
and his breath came fast and noisy.
went over the edge with a strangled sound, cum splattering
onto Hooch, catching himself in the last moment before
he let himself fall down onto the bed. On his knees
instead, struggling for breath and grinning down at
Hooch, who was still watching him with burning intensity
in his dark eyes.
was right." Hooch murmured.
sound you make when you come."
stared at Hooch, remembering every word in the hospital.
Hooch waved him down, pulling him into a kiss instead,
only letting go of Matt's neck when he broke the kiss
and murmured, "you, you are quite something."
was confused, but Hooch said nothing else, too exhausted.
He let Matt take care of both of them, wiping them both
to go onto the couch?" Matt smiled, his hand splayed
out on Hooch's chest, fingers covering two of the burns.
me an hour? Pretty damn wiped."
Matt looked for the blanket, "mind if I stay?"
just snorted softly and Matt quickly got rid of the
rest of his clothes, then lay down beside Hooch, pulling
the blanket over both of them. Lying close, he breathed
in the scent that was Hooch and yet was different. He'd
be back to the old Hooch, though, he'd make sure. He'd
lose the clinical scent, the otherness.
lifted his head when he heard Hooch's regular breaths,
watching the face, relaxed in sleep. Forging this image
over all of the ones of the past.
Alive. Nothing else mattered.
two hours later, Matt had helped settle Hooch on the
couch in the living room, in a pair of shorts underneath
the brace, to watch a Dallas Mavericks game on TV. The
remains of a chicken dinner stood on the table beside
him, and a couple of empty Buds right next to it.
looked up and grunted a nonsensical question as Matt
came back from the kitchen, dropping a letter into his
shrugged, gestured at the letter before wandering back
into the kitchen to grab a couple of fresh beers. He
stalled midway, fridge door open, breathing deeply.
Had he done the right thing? Fuck knew, but he'd gone
with his gut instinct and his gut had twisted into a
knot at the thought of staying any longer in the 'don't
ask - don't tell' pit of lies. He shook himself out
of his musings, pushed the fridge door shut with his
elbow and opened the bottles. Leaving enough time for
Hooch to read.
he stepped back into the main room of his small apartment,
Hooch was holding the letter in his hand. "Why?"
set the beer down onto the table and slouched on the
chair which he'd pushed right next to the sofa. Feeling
strangely reluctant to touch Hooch right now. 'Why',
a good question. It had been perfectly clear in his
mind at the time of making the decision. Putting it
into words was suddenly a challenge and he took a good
swig from his bottle, stalling for time, before looking
had enough." It was that simple, when it came down
Matt shrugged. He had, being a Marine was what he'd
always wanted. As a kid, playing soldier, as a teenager,
and finally as a man. Before he realized how very much
his sexuality was himself. Lying about that part of
himself? He'd managed, until Hooch's capture. Love was
a strange and powerful thing, and entirely unplanned.
"Had enough of the fucking lies," he finally
Wrong, and Matt drew in another breath, expelling it
noisily. "No, but I thought I'd gotten used to
something to do with me." Hooch made it a statement
not a question, and Matt grimaced. At least Hooch didn't
ask him if he knew what he was doing, accepting Matt's
decision as what it was: final.
suddenly raised his head in anger. Aggression born out
of frustration, but damn, Hooch had changed the rules
of this game entirely. "Fucking yes! It has to
do with you. Not knowing, not being able to ask, just
lies. Lies and more lies. No grieving allowed, not a
fucking thing. Couldn't contact your family, haven't
got a fucking clue where they are, and Texas is damned
big. Couldn't even pretend I was your buddy, in case
anyone wondered why the fuck a Marine was buddies with
a Delta. No messages, not a fucking thing and I was
going insane!" Matt was getting more agitated,
and he stood up. "I was so fucking desperate, I
would have tried anything. But who the fuck was I? Just
some stupid fucking Marine who was going off the edge,
not knowing if he's lost the fucking man he fucking
was fuming, but Hooch didn't show a reaction, except
for a quiet, "do you?"
you?" Hooch calmly repeated.
felt as if all air had been driven out of his lungs.
Deflated, he sat back down on the sofa. "Yeah."
nodded, folded the letter and placed it back on the
looked at him in confusion, then shook his head with
a frustrated grunt. Hooch was still as exasperating
as he'd always been, and Matt really didn't appreciate
feeling like an idiot right now. "What the fuck
does 'Okay' mean?"
a job offer."
Matt leaned closer, "what?"
They want me to train Delta. Stationed in Fort Bragg."
Hooch shrugged, "no more battlefields."
Matt tried to make sense and get an indication what
Hooch thought about this, but no chance. "You're
not that old yet, you got some years left on active
duty." Pointing at Hooch's pelvis, "and the
injury's not cause for retirement from active duty,
not. They'll know in a few months. Recovery can be up
to a year."
what are you going to do? They can't force you, can
shrugged, "no, not yet."
Matt drew in a breath, "that's alright then. Back
to normal once you've regained your health and strength."
Exasperation was creeping into Matt's voice.
Matt leaned forward that abruptly, he almost slid off
Painfully aware of how he echoed Hooch, whose lips quirked
into the customary half-grin. Taking hold of the waistband
of Matt's shorts, Hooch twisted his fist into the fabric
and pulled him up and close, while Matt could do nothing
but follow the motion, letting himself drop onto his
knees on the rug in front of the sofa.
now?" Matt raised both brows.
fist twisted tighter, pulling Matt even closer, until
there was no further to go without jostling him. "You
tell me. You'll be out of a job."
rolled his eyes, "I'm going to open a fitness club
with the money I've saved. It'll be based on military
grinned. "You'll be fucking rich."
is, where do I settle down? I have no fucking clue."
not fucking serious!" Matt's eyes widened, "that's
right next to Fort Bragg."
Camp beds are shit."
the fuck are you going to explain living with a gay
guy? Because I'm fucking sick of lying."
shrugged. "Spare room."
Nobody's going to believe that."
too high profile now. Don't ask don't tell? This shit
works both ways. You think they're going to prove I'm
not staying in my own room?"
grinned. "It might just work if we're careful,
but you're fucking crazy."
sobered Matt, but before the dark shadow could touch
him, Hooch reached up to draw him closer, and Matt forgot
all about it during the kiss.
1998, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
few weeks later, when Matt came home from work on a
Friday, the strong scent of freshly brewed coffee greeted
him. "Hey, Hooch!"
answer, and Matt strained to listen. Improbable that
Hooch was out and about, but not impossible. He'd been
moving further and further lately, and had been coming
on in leaps and bounds, thanks to the physiotherapy
he meticulously followed, doing his exercises religiously.
eventually noticed the sound of the shower and, as expected,
the bathroom door was ajar. "Fair enough,"
he muttered to himself, whistling under his breath as
he took his tunic off, hung it onto a hook in the hallway,
and marched into the kitchenette. The coffee was steaming
in the pot and he poured himself a mug before he sat
down at the breakfast bar.
He noticed a sheet on the table, unfolded, the letter
pointing the other direction. Curious, he turned it
round and skimmed over the letter while taking a sip
of the strong, black coffee. He almost burnt his lips
when he stared at the writing. Putting the mug down,
he pulled the letter closer and re-checked the heading.
Medical Lab. Test results. Then read it once more, and
then again, for good measure, where it said in bold
letters: 'Bozic, Hubert. Negative.'
grin that spread across Matt's face threatened to split
it side-to-side and he jumped off the chair. "Hooch!"
Hollering across the apartment, but Hooch, hair still
wet, towel around his hips, and leaning on his walker,
was already standing in the doorframe.
the ear-splitting noise?"
damn well know, buddy."
raised his brows in the most infuriating manner he managed.
What does and mean, you dickhead?"
Matt didn't. Wordlessly pulling the t-shirt over his
head, he flung it into a corner. Flexing the impressive
muscles of his smooth chest. He wasn't a PT instructor
for nothing. "Does that remind you of anything?"
rolled his eyes while unbuttoning the BDUs. He pushed
them down, together with his briefs underneath. The
trousers slipped and got caught around his ankles at
the top of the boots. His groin was just as smooth except
for a neat patch. "And what does that remind you
laughed with exasperation. "You're insufferable."
we are getting somewhere." Matt stepped closer,
pulled the towel off Hooch and steadied Hooch's hips
with his hands, holding him carefully, just enough to
push his groin against Hooch's. He grinned at the immediate
reaction. "If I fucked myself on you, very carefully,
would your pelvis manage?"
it doesn't I don't give a shit." The sudden, husky
quality to Hooch's voice caused Matt to take in a sharp
" Matt murmured, giving his hips
a slight twist, "fuck me, Hooch."
hadn't realized how much he'd missed Hooch's rare, shit-eating
couple of weeks later, Hooch was moving round on crutches,
the walker discarded. He was getting better, but the
pain had only eased minimally. Still, he could piss
and shit without major distress, and if that wasn't
a victory to be proud of, then he didn't know what was.
Getting back into the living room, he watched Matt from
the hallway. He could see his profile, the handsome
face and that perfect body. Young, unspoiled, and if
he could help it, Matt would remain like that.
him for a while, until Matt lifted his head, cottoned
on that he was being watched, and cast a smile at Hooch.
Another one of those motherfucking dazzling smiles,
the sort that made Hooch's knees go weak and his mind
step onto a merry-go-round. He didn't quite understand
why this particular man, this 'kid' had managed to crawl
beneath his skin and settle down inside his heart.
anything you like, buddy?" Matt grinned.
I didn't I wouldn't be here." Hooch made his way
towards the couch.
moved over, making space for him to sit down. "Smartass."
A lazy fist connected gently with Hooch's shoulder once
he had maneuvered himself to sit.
be better." Hooch glanced to the side. "I
just managed to take a shit without screaming in pain,
I call that a glorious day."
laughed, "thanks for the gory details."
you would appreciate it."
comfortably in silence, each with a beer in their hand.
Hooch had his legs up on the stool, and Matt slouched
with his feet on the couch table, watching a baseball
game. Hooch realized quite some time into the game that
he had no idea who was playing.
Drawn to the game, Matt took a moment before he turned
his head, looking at Hooch. "What's up?"
got to tell you something." And wasn't attack better
turned into a right chatterbox lately." Matt grinned,
taking a mouthful of his beer.
Ignoring the quip, Hooch went straight on. "I never
told you that I'm a masochist."
are you talking about?" Matt laughed. "Was
there something in your lunch today?"
Hooch twisted to look at Matt, "but I think it's
time to tell you about the rest of me. Sometimes, I
need to be beaten and fucked up until I crack."
fucking kidding me."
why the hell do you tell me? Now? What's the point?"
Matt slammed the half empty bottle onto the table.
need you to know."
what, five years? I don't fucking believe it, you bastard!"
because I didn't tell you, thinking that this part of
me had nothing to do with you?"
because you fucking lied."
not telling me!" Matt's eyes were ablaze.
had never seen him that angry and hurt before. "If
I had told you, what good would it have done?"
would have tried to be for you what you needed."
Matt," Hooch's voice turned softer, "you don't
have it in you."
the fuck are you telling me? You say I'm a pussy? I
don't fucking have it in me?"
not you, Matt."
not what you said."
shook his head. "It's what I meant."
up from the sofa, Matt was fuming. "What you said
is that I am not what you want."
bullshit and you know it."
would you see it then, if you were me? You tell me,
after five fucking years, that you need to
the fuck should I call it, get punished. And that is
not telling me that I'm not alright? That I'm not missing
quietly interjected. "You're not missing anything."
you fucking kid me." Matt's hands were in fists
and he started to pace the small living room. "I
thought we had a relationship."
do now. The question is if we had."
always came back."
because you were convenient. And pretty."
what? Convenient? You asshole."
were, not saying that's what you still are."
have the guts to tell me that?" Matt shook his
head. "Convenient? Like a fucking door mat?"
Hooch said quietly, looking at Matt with a serious expression,
"but I am telling you the truth right now. Back
when it all started you were convenient. Great fun,
fantastic source for sex, and
Fuck you, Hooch."
but you are."
are pretty, I'm a man. I'm not pretty."
would you rather be? Handsome? Adorable? Perfect? Stunning?
Gorgeous? Breathtaking? Beautiful?"
of it and more."
Matt groused. He deflated, had some of the anger taken
out of him, but the sting was still there. "You're
Hooch beckoned Matt closer.
and I'm outgunned. As usual." Matt reached for
the beer again, but a hand on his arm stopped him.
never been outgunned."
fucking kidding me again."
told you before, Matthew Donahue, you are quite something.
Outwitted, perhaps, but never outgunned."
didn't reply immediately, just looked at Matt, fingers
twisting into the fabric of his t-shirt. Looking at
him for a long time, before he pulled him across and
close. "If I told you that I wanted to spend my
days and nights with you, live with you, as my partner,
because out there, in Hell, I realized that you mean
the world to me? If I told you that you are my sanity,
my laughter, my lust, my love, my comfort, my day and
my night, my heat and cold and everything? If I told
you all that, would you think that translates to 'convenient'?"
swallowed, staring at Hooch wide-eyed. "N...no."
right. Now shut up, Donahue, and tell me that you'll
spend the rest of your life with me."
pronounced his next words very carefully: