civilian clothes were the strangest thing about it.
Vadim still had the set of clothes he'd bought in England
to not stand out too badly, nothing special, dark blue
jeans, a grey tee. Carrying a bag in one hand, determined
to get anything else he needed when they'd arrive. The
main things were passport and wallet, and that alone
was enough. Beat the hell out of body armour and stuffed
ammo pouches. He didn't wear the sunglasses, they reminded
him of the desert, had even changed the watch - for
the same reason. What he needed easily fitted into a
light bag, no bigger than one used for fencing.
for Dan to show up, Vadim noticed how the other mercs
noticed. Occasional stares from somebody who had never
seen him in anything but camo, naked, or a towel. Krasnorada
has a life, is what it seemed to say. Nevertheless,
Vadim was strangely optimistic. Travelling wouldn't
be too bad with Dan, he figured, would give them time
away from all this shit here. Mildly optimistic. He
didn't expect much, didn't expect anything to grow back,
apart, maybe, from respect. Dan had made clear whatever
he felt, he just couldn't, and Vadim knew his safest
bet now was to find enough to live for, somehow, to
make this worthwhile. Two weeks should be enough time
to work out if there was anything left. At least no
Jean, no Donahue, no duties. Repay Dan a small amount.
Dan finally came out of his hut, whistling, he looked
exactly as he always did. T-shirt, knee-length shorts
he must have found in an army surplus store - at least
this time not the cut-off ones, and desert boots. He
didn't actually own anything else, had left everything
that reminded him of the past in storage in the embassy.
He wore an open shirt on top, in a non identifiable
faded olive green with darker rectangles, where the
torn-off patches had lived. And, of course, the obligatory
shades. Bergan thrown over his shoulder, he had a water
bottle clamped under his left arm, while the right resided
in his shorts pocket. Grinning as he came closer, ignoring
anybody else and their curious stares. "Ready for
take-off, Russkie? Let's just hope I won't get shot
down this time."
grinned. "Ready for take-off." Dan's 'traintracks'
distracted him, the massive scar across his leg. He
turned and headed towards the waiting vehicle that would
get them to the airport. He wondered what the others
thought, all this was too much out in the open, too
visible, but that was the timing of the plane, and of
the camp, and why should he care. It had made the rounds
so often, the novelty had to wear off at some point.
re-shouldered the bergan, lightly packed, there wasn't
much he had that was even worth taking, and climbed
into the Landrover. Opening the door to hang out at
the last minute, shouting across the camp, "See
you in two weeks, girls, keep your blue balls for me,
don't think I'll miss your pretty arses!" Laughing
his head off as he slammed the door shut, getting the
driver to speed off with screeching tires.
he was, then. Sitting in a Lannie once more, right beside
Vadim. "Beats the last time, aye?" Dan grinned
sideways, "no insurgents as far as I can see."
no stuck Yank pigs bleeding all over my camo",
said Vadim, and showed teeth to take the sting out of
bastard." But Dan's grin bordered on tenderness.
"The kid's surviving."
knew Dan had a tender spot for them. Well. Screwing
with one of them likely did that. He shook his head,
tried to not think of Donahue, nor how pretty the kid
was. He stretched out his legs, used the space he had,
but couldn't keep his eyes from searching the landscape.
A habit. Professional paranoia. "Thanks for coming
along, by the way."
simply shrugged. "As I said, thanks for inviting
me. It'll be good
." He paused, eyes behind
the shades flickering off the other's face, fixed for
a moment on the landscape that went past. "Good
to be, away, you know."
Very good to be away. He had to tread carefully; 'be
nice' as Jean had called it. Be friendly. He'd make
an effort. Vadim inhaled deeply, scanned the landscape,
while his mind was thankfully blank.
didn't say anything for a long time, settled back in
the seat, the airport approaching. Just before they
arrived, he said added, quietly, "Fucking missed
you, but you know that."
gave a smile, didn't trust his voice to keep stable.
Missing didn't begin to cover it. He nodded, throat
tight, then got out to carry the bags again. Things
from there went smoothly. A connection to Dubai, then
with civilian airlines towards Thailand. First class
- and all the privileges that came with it. Better than
a Herc, and Dan, for one, enjoyed himself with the free
drinks, the nibbles, the comfort of the extra cushioned
seats, and the fact they treated him as if he was wearing
the suits that the Baroness had him wear, although he
looked as scruffy as an aging squaddie.
moment they set foot into Thailand, Dan was taken in
by the heat and the colours. Those damned colours that
seemed to glow in the sun. Blues and yellows, greens
from luscious vegetation, and even more blues from sea
and sky. He hardly had enough time to look around before
they were chaperoned into a waiting taxi to take them
to their waiting bungalows.
airport, and then a 50 minute commute in air conditioned
busses to the Mukhdara Beach Resort. Secluded bungalows,
two of which Vadim had reserved, and he couldn't believe
how easy and how different everything was. From the
small, oddly friendly people to the whole relaxed gracious
place. "Well, that's it, then." Vadim nodded
to himself, acting as if he actually had expected the
photos to tell the truth. He hadn't, and it was hard
shit." Dan dropped the bergan right there and then,
looking around the huge airy room of his bungalow. Two
identical ones, with over-sized beds which were large
enough for tall men like them. Everything light, made
from warm coloured wood, open sky and the sea. "I'm
going to get lost in here."
smiled, enormously pleased it had some impact on Dan.
He crossed the room and opened the blinds, so that the
ocean became fully visible. Palms. White golden beach,
cast into dramatic light by the dying sun. "Just
call them for food. There's the buffet somewhere ...
near the central pool ... or order something to the
room." He inhaled. "Think I'll start with
a shower. See you later."
yes." Dan was too distracted to answer coherently.
Everything was too big, too grand, and just about too
much luxury. It had been fun in the plane, but this?
Heaven and hell, he wondered if he should buy himself
new clothes straight away, to fit into the décor,
or if he should just run around naked.
headed to his bungalow, maybe, what, sixty yards away,
and found a very similar place. Different décor,
different wood carvings, the bungalow facing the sea
at a different angle. He set the bag down on the bed,
then headed into the bathroom - hardly smaller than
the bedroom - for a shower. Feeling mellow and tired,
and above all, not trapped for fucking once.
in the meantime took a shower as well, fiddling with
the plastic bag over his hand, at least they had renewed
the sticky bandage and given him a few more to make
sure the plaster wasn't going to come off. He'd been
asked to check back that week, but heck, if that meant
he'd have to stay in camp they could stuff it.
showered, wet hair tousled and body back in the other
pair of shorts that he had taken with him, Dan found
a shirt that didn't look too ruddy, but couldn't manage
to fiddle the small buttons into the button holes one-handed.
He had to leave it open, then. As long as he had his
shades he could ignore any ill-disguised stares at his
scarred stomach. He pondered going over to that buffet
thing to catch food and booze, but mostly, he was bored.
Already. Where to go and what to do? It was beautiful,
peaceful, stunning in fact, but there he was, standing
on the patio, staring at the sea and
was just so big and
in the other bungalow, Vadim slipped into the bathrobe,
which amused him, because he was clearly too tall for
it. They were generously cut, but it still looked like
a miniskirt. He leafed through a short guide to the
park, and apparently, everything was provided, and what
wasn't would be at the drop of a hat. He opened the
doors to the veranda, and glanced over to Dan's bungalow.
Neatly arranged that he couldn't actually see what was
going on. He frowned, thoughtfully, then headed back
to Dan's place, walked across the white sand and rapped
on the veranda door. "Dan?"
turned, couldn't help the relief showing when he saw
Vadim. Noticing far too quickly what Vadim was actually
wearing - and that was damn little. Shit.
stepped in, showing Dan the leaflet. "What about
ordering the tailor for tomorrow?"
Tipping the shades up over his eyes, they balanced on
Dan's forehead. "What for? Don't they have swimming
trunks on sale?"
but you travel just as light as I do. Having something
to change into would be good." Vadim grinned. "Swimming
trunks they should have in the tourist shop. I need
but can't imagine I need anything tailored."
not about needing." It's about wanting. As always.
shrugged and grinned, while lighting a cigarette, "Fair
enough, I go with the flow." Pointing at Vadim's
attire, "you sure as hell aren't going to the tourist
shop in that, are you?" Slowly walking around the
other, as if checking the goods. He tried to crack a
light-hearted joke, but all that came out in the end
was a quiet, "never saw you in one of those."
Not even in the hotel room, the last night. So many
firsts, he hadn't realised they had a whole lifetime's
worth of firsts - they'd never had the chance.
stood, felt his shoulders and back tense, like an inspection,
funny, that, and funnier that he didn't mind. "I
think I'll put on something more. Just didn't want to
put the same clothes back on." He turned his head,
and grinned at Dan. "You've seen me with nothing
on. Does this look so ... ridiculous?"
yes." Dan grinned, exhaling the smoke away from
Vadim, without thinking. The habit had stuck, and the
deep seated knowledge that the other didn't like the
nicotine smell. "Maybe not if it fit, but this
one makes you look like wearing a skimpy dress. Not
a good look on a hairy bloke." Not that the legs
he saw were particularly hairy, nor the arms, nor
oh shit. He hadn't seen the body for two and a half
years. Didn't know if he wanted to - lest it felt like
yet another sucker punch to the guts.
good after the shower", Vadim murmured, and gave
a self-conscious grin.
grinned back. "Anyway, come shopping with me? Need
something other than combat boots or flip flops and
I guess the ragged old shirts I got aren't really for
general consumption either."
Let me change - will be one minute."
took a deep drag, watching the smoke curl out of his
nostrils, "and if I don't wear anything I'd probably
make the food go off and the children run away screaming.
What with the scars and all. I'm not what one could
call particularly pretty." Unlike you, Vadim and
your goddamned perfection, except for a word cut in
blood and flesh.
shook his head, already retreating towards the open
door. "Pretty is different", he murmured.
"Pretty has no scars. You are ..." Jaw muscles
tensed again. "Like the morning sky in Afghanistan.
Not 'pretty'. Word's 'breathtaking'." In more senses
than one. Choking, strangling, intense pain that forbid
stared at him, silenced by a few words, forgetting the
fag that burnt between his fingers, even forgot to breathe.
He remembered. Remembered everything, no matter how
hard he'd fought to forget the memories. Too painful.
You are, and then Vadim had stalled, beautiful.
Beautiful. Lapushka. And every touch and kiss still
echoing in his body. He watched Vadim leave without
pick you up. Two minutes." Somewhat hurriedly,
Vadim retreated to his bungalow, cursing himself for
saying that. Jean called it 'flirting', but it was gut-wrenching,
really, speaking his mind when he had very little hope
of getting anywhere near what they'd had. Not that it
had to happen, nor that it was even very likely: whores
were easy to come by - he knew the stories from Jean's
crew - youths, children, even, both genders, and a couple
very odd combinations if he trusted the stories that
floated around camp. Finding something to blow steam
with was easy, and if he didn't want to go out hunting,
there was always the number of porn channels. But of
course, he couldn't help feeling that most poisonous
of feelings, the one that had been almost worse than
the isolation, that small, resilient hope that Dan would
one night be drunk enough, so he had a chance. Even
if it was just that night, or the holidays, before they'd
return, and Dan would also return to Donahue and Jean
the bastard, and maybe get posted somewhere else. It
was nostalgia, thought Vadim, shrugging into his clothes
and giving himself a last glance in the huge mirror
with the carved wooden frame. He didn't look like a
civilian at all, the tightness about his features, the
unblinking, impassive gaze, like a soldier on parade.
There was still the nagging hope.
was standing on the terrace, smoking, already on the
second cigarette. Staring out over the beach and its
sun drenched beauty. Sky and sea, more blue than he
could ask for, and yet it would never compare to the
endless skies above the unforgiving mountains in Afghanistan.
Breathtaking. Beauty, that's not what he was.
Beauty was what he remembered - Vadim.
you are." Dan turned when he heard the other approach,
tried a smile, but the light-hearted fun was coming
harder. "I tried to close the shirt, but the damned
buttons are a nightmare one-handed. You either help
me, or you'll have to go out with me scaring children
find children are far tougher than you think."
Vadim stepped closer, into Dan's personal space, close
enough to smell him. Keeping his eyes on his hands,
not on Dan's skin, not on Dan's face, not the throat
that moved when he swallowed. Closing the buttons. Remembered
Katya dressing him, a few times, brushing over his shoulders.
Odd tenderness from one so tough. The thought helped
nodded, said nothing, the lump in his throat made talking
shops were open late, Vadim couldn't see any opening
times, small wooden huts with reed roofs, stacked in
gaudy colours, as crammed and colourful as he had expected.
Diving gear, bright shirts, bracelets, card and board
games, drinks and snacks, and so many things that Vadim's
eyes needed several minutes to take them in. Sort information
that was important from information that wasn't. A tiny
Thai woman gave them a bright smile, and Vadim had the
feeling the smile for him was brighter, which was strange.
I help you, gentlemen?"
hadn't noticed her, he was staring at all the stuff
on display. Just like super markets back in Blighty.
Too much, and the choice was getting annoying. At least
when it came to food he just grabbed anything, and he
figured he'd do the same with clothes. What else could
he do, since his staples at the Army Surplus shop weren't
available in this place and they didn't seem to have
straightforward denims, either.
" Dan stammered and shrugged. Eyes hidden
behind the shades, desperately trying to pick things
out. "I need something to wear." Something
- anything. What did it matter, unless
haven't got a clue. Shirts, shorts, swimming trunks,
some kind of shoes. Just stuff." He shrugged.
course. If you would follow me, gentlemen." Assuming,
unspoken, that Vadim and Dan belonged together. She
led them deeper into the shop - it was a smart design
where the small huts were interconnected and the actual
shopping space filled several of them, while it looked
smaller and picturesque from outside. Here were actual
clothes, leisure things, mainly. Shirts, shorts, swimming
trunks and bathing suits, security belts and neck pillows,
and she stood there, smiling, ever so willingly helpful.
decided finding trousers was the main issue, and spotted
some light trousers that were suitable for jungle expeditions
but also looked presentable. "What's your size?"
have no fucking clue." Dan stood stunned like a
nun in front of a nudist club.
Think you should be close enough to mine." In trousers,
anyway. Shirts would be slightly wider on Dan, but still
fit nicely. After careful consideration, Vadim handed
Dan a selection of colours - tan, sand, grey, olive.
"Try these. I'll have a further look." He
glanced at the shop assistant, who gave him a little
bow, lingering a very polite distance away so she could
help when necessary.
Like a meek raw recruit who was all too thankful to
obey orders, Dan vanished behind the curtain of one
of the changing booths. Stepping out with the sand coloured
pair of trousers on, which fit perfectly, the grey ones
over his arm. Looking around for Vadim, who came back
with more garments, which made Dan roll his eyes.
had found jeans - dark blue and indigo, and those colours
worked well for Dan, too. Checking the prizes, all seemed
fairly affordable anyway, and he spent some time rifling
through clothes, selecting those he would want to see
don't like grey." Shaking his head, Dan held the
pair out to Vadim. "Shit colour."
right shade of grey would be great with that darkened
skin, thought Vadim, but that thought ceased when Dan,
standing like a very awkward mannequin, lifted the shirt
above the waistband. It seemed to say: Look at my scars,
and I'm sure you're willing to suck me off now. Lacking,
as usual, underwear, and the trail of dark hair was
Didn't bother with the button. Too awkward with just
one bloody hand." Dan's voice sounded long-suffering,
even though he'd only tried on one pair. "Are the
others the same size? In that case I'll just buy them.
I hate shopping." There was a definite whine creeping
took the pile of trousers and handed them to the shop
assistant. "Shirts." He'd found some he liked,
T-shirts, undershirts, proper button down shirts. "Put
on just one and get the ones you like the colours of."
Dan grinned, relieved, managed to wriggle out of his
shirt without having to negotiate the buttons, and tried
one of each of the items on, except for undershirts,
he refused to wear such things. Wifebeaters belonged
onto the legionnaire, he'd stick to t-shirts. Picking
the same colours as for the trousers, with the addition
of charcoal. Arguing with himself it wasn't really grey,
when several blues caught his eye, and he held one out
to Vadim to add it to the pile. "Here, that one
as well." It was a special blue, lapis lazuli.
The same colour as the string of prayer beads, left
with the Baroness in Dubai. He'd chucked them into the
bin in his room, before he'd left to catch that Herc.
socks and underwear, Dan protested, claiming he wouldn't
need more than a couple of pairs anyway, refusing to
wear such things as briefs, let alone boxers. Vadim
then investigated about a different set of shades. The
ones Dan wore still made him look like a merc, reminded
him of 'Mad Dog'. Too utilitarian.
shook his head, "What's wrong with mine?"
He liked them, they'd survived sand, heat, brawls, fucks,
halo jump and helicopter crash, yet he grudgingly chose
a pair that made him - in his opinion - look the least
like a pretentious twat, failing to realise they gave
him a rather sophisticated air, which Vadim relished.
everything up, Vadim pulled his wallet out and flicked
it open. It was a new thing, the credit card still stuck
to the black leather. "I'm paying this. All inclusive,
yes?" While the shop assistant folded everything
and explained there was laundry service available and
lovely tailors that would tailor suits, linen, wool,
cashmere, whatever they wanted, and they were happy
to come out here.
Dan came to the checkout a moment later, wearing the
sand coloured trousers and a khaki shirt, the new shades
over his eyes, while the transaction was already underway.
"I thought I'd pay. I wouldn't have chosen such
a fucking great pile if I'd known you paid. Besides,
when should I wear all that stuff? Sure as hell not
shook his head. "I said all inclusive. You can
always throw the stuff away when you're done with it."
Doubting Dan would lug the clothes around the world,
but that was no reason to not get them. Watching the
shop assistant deal with his credit card. As good as
cash. Covered, with credit.
could get used to this", Vadim murmured. "And
don't worry, I'll get my stuff tomorrow morning, before
breakfast." Feeling oddly happy about how easily
some problems could be solved, and about Dan's new looks.
And the fact he could pay him back - if just a little.
over the pile Dan sighed, pointing at it, "You
know what's missing? The swimming trunks. And shoes."
God, he bloody hated shopping.
grinned while the shop assistant wrapped the purchases
up and took the number of the bungalow. Everything would
be delivered. "Back over there." He pointed
in the direction where he had seen the trunks. Not sure
he wanted to see Dan that exposed. Yes, he did, of course,
but seeing a body he wanted and couldn't have ...? "Or
do you absolutely need help?"
I'll be fine." Dan shrugged, wandered over, "I'll
just pick some, they should fit, but what about shoes?
I don't care what I wear, but figured these flip flops
are falling apart."
care what you wear", muttered Vadim under his breath,
then louder: "Let me have a look." He headed
towards the area of shop, ever shadowed in the most
friendly manner by the shop assistant who had taken
a liking to him - or the credit card, which made more
sense - and went through the shoes. Sandals, trainers,
light loafers, nothing great, but better than military
boots. He selected some for Dan, knowing he wore two
sizes smaller than Vadim's 'paddles', as Katya had called
his feet semi-affectionately. Found a different design
for himself, and they did have his size. All that went
on the pile as well.
picked two pairs of swimming trunks at random, all in
black. One was shorts and the other a briefs style little
thing. He had no idea how comfortable any of them were.
waved the things over and paid again. "There. Kitted
out for holidays." He'd do his shopping without
Dan. More time, more calm, and too much of Dan's attention
made him wistful.
left the pile with the shop assistant, then looked at
Dan. "Have a walk towards the buffet? I could use
Dan left his battered flip flops on the pile, refusing
to throw them away, and slipped into black canvas trainers,
liked the fact they had an old fashioned feel to them
and a round white logo on the side. On top of that they
turned out to be rather comfortable. "I'm looking
forward to check out their cocktail and dessert menu."
He grinned while walking beside Vadim, couldn't help
but looking at him, now and then.
is a good idea. I think I'll get wasted today. And sleep
long." Ultimate luxury for Vadim: being in a state
unfit to fight, and breaking through the five o' clock
waking. He'd wake up, unless he drank too much, but
he would just turn round and sleep on. Decadence.
is odd." Dan gave another glance, "walking
like this," he peered, "in broad daylight,
and no one there to threaten either of us." He
could get used to this, if only
if only he'd
have a fucking clue who Vadim had become. Was this man
beside him still the man he had craved and loved? Yes,
and no. And it drove Dan slowly mad.
grinned. "Wait till we get to the buffet. But yes,
guerrillas and bombs are unlikely." Still, part
of him expected something, anything, some primal part
of his brain was always tuned into his environment,
expected sudden movements, and checked passer-bys for
concealed weapons. Paranoia was a habit. He saw access
routes, fire corridors, escape routes, and noticed and
..." Vadim paused, and the sentence 'any plans
for tonight' didn't come out. Drink, eat, sleep, that
was the plan. Anything beyond that was none of his business.
Frowned, looking to the side to hide the sudden insecurity.
"I hope you'll enjoy this place." Whatever
you do, have fun.
Dan grinned, "I sure am determined to, and think
you've got an excellent idea. Getting pissed on cocktails
sounds just brilliant. Race you down and up the cocktail
nodded. "But we have wildcards, just in case one
of them is really horrible." Knowing Dan's taste
for sweet stuff, Dan would be fine. He himself wasn't
too sure, even if he had no idea what the vast majority
reached the buffet area, where just about everything
imaginable was spread out. Small tables scattered on
the patio, all in view of the beach and the sea and
the spectacular sunset that was beginning to approach.
looked at the piles of lobster, ice sculptures, daintily
carved carrots and melons that looked like exotic plants,
and prepared fruit he had never seen in his life. Nowhere.
No magazine, no nothing. Just completely alien. "Let's
grab some food, and then get wasted."
grinned, snatched a plate and started on the seafood
end. After the first helping he went onto the chicken
and other winged birds, and the third round dug into
the meat selection. Only nibbling on the odd piece of
fruit, he preferred dead animals, as he lovingly called
his platefuls. Vadim mainly stuck to fish and lobster
and seemed almost guilty at the amount of lobster he
Dan stuffed himself, ending up at the dessert bar, and
heaping a helping of each of the delicacies onto his
plate, as if there was no tomorrow.
sat on one of the small two-person tables, candles and
flower arrangements between them. The spectacular sunset
bathed beach and sea in a fiery glow, and the gentle
sound of the surf was lapping against the sand. It was
fucking picture postcard perfect, so good, that when
Dan sucked on the double-straw in his garishly coloured
and decorated sixth cocktail, he took the shades off.
Looking at the man opposite to him, who licked some
lobster juice off his fingers. "Another first."
He smiled, busied himself with his drink.
what?" Vadim wiped his lips with the back of his
hand, then saw another tourist look disapproving at
him and took up the cloth napkin to wipe his lips again.
was licking some running chocolate off his hand, that
was threatening to make its way into the cuff of his
brand new shirt. Lapping with his tongue at the sticky
sweetness. "Eating, like this." He rubbed
the last bit off with his napkin. "Eating outside.
" he put his spoon down, looking
at Vadim for a moment, "together. Not having to
hide." That was it, that was what kept getting
to him: they didn't have to hide, they could just be.
looked down at the lobster mass grave. "And not
being ashamed." He paused, curious how that feeling
had crept into his life, but then it hit him, and he
shook his head.
head shot up. "What?" His stance suddenly
changed, alert, uncomprehending. But he should, really,
shouldn't he? Understand. He knew what they charged
Vadim with in the end, but he just couldn't go there.
a traitor, you are not collaborating.
There is nobody who
will fuck us up. Still, we
" manage quite nicely on our own, fucking
us up. "
have reflexes, yes? It's too deep."
course you are not a traitor." Dan's hand clenched
into a fist, involuntarily. The booze was keeping him
somewhat mellow, but hell, he couldn't just let this
slip past. Shaking his head, "you are right, though,
everything is too deep. You are, I am, we are. You're
in my bones, my blood, and in my being." Covering
any other thoughts by quickly turning round and waving
to a waiter, ordering two more cocktails of whatever
was next on the list.
watched the waiter clear away the plates and the last
big glasses with their remaining fruit peel and residue
of sugar, and some mint leaf amidst melting shards of
" He looked up, then shook his
head. "Shouldn't make this mistake. I shouldn't.
I should fucking
I can't keep it up." Muttering under
his breath, while Dan looked at him, alarmed, yet Vadim's
thoughts went straight to the tongue. "You're the
only thing I
one thing that
makes sense. If you
me anymore, that's
alright, if all you want to
do is fuck, that's alright, if all you want to do is
talk, yes, but
more difficult. You call the shots.
You call all the shots. Your decision. Your call."
Vadim felt his chest was too tight to properly breathe
with. "And I fucked it up again. Bravo, you stupid
shit." Dan's hand surreptitiously opened and clenched,
needing to feel the polished wood to gather his thoughts.
Damned cocktails, they made everything so much brighter,
and muddled the words at the same time. "It doesn't
work like this." He hardly noticed the waiter who
put two more glasses down, neon red this time. "I
can't just fuck around with you, it would finish me
off. Didn't you listen to what I told you on the rooftop?"
He felt desperate, no matter how much he understood
- or tried to - Vadim's own desperation.
but it didn't make any sense. Wanting and not wanting,
hating, loving, it was all a mess and Vadim was unable
to think clearly, not with all the contradictions, not
with Dan being there and not being there. The past,
fucking past, and the inability to start over or break
it off, trapped in stasis like insects in amber. Vadim
bit his teeth together. Still some kind of no. He wasn't
good at it, and he had ruined the evening, the meal,
the plan to get pleasantly drunk.
I touched you, that'd be it." Dan shook his head,
"Damn, how the fuck am I going to make you understand?"
Pleading, almost, "You are everything, don't you
get it? You are the Afghan mountains, the damned red
dust, the endless sky. You were my home, and more often
than not, also my reason. You are unlike all the others,
unlike anyone I shag, because when I touch you it's
not just a touch, it's eleven years of heaven and hell."
others. And again the past. Vadim wished it had never
got that far - they'd just met, different circumstances,
indeed nothing but two men with a taste for other men,
strong ones, without all the shit, the darkness, without
the guilt and shame and debts. Only then he would never
be able to compete with guys like Jean, or Donahue.
In the looks department, and in the charms area, he
was pathetically outgunned by either of them. "You
are same", he said, tonelessly, felt like he was
being choked, and noticed he'd dropped the article.
looked down onto his hand that had flattened on the
surface, palm pressed against warm wood. "I told
you I love you and that's why I hated you; only you
could bring me that far." His voice quietened,
"I'm not even saying it is your fault. I realise
that there is too much I don't understand, and that's
why I need to get to know you. Who are you now, Vadim?
I want to know you, I need to understand."
I don't understand myself. I don't know how and why
I broke and why I just don't heal. I don't get what
they did to me, and what I allowed them to do. Understanding
was impossible. How did Dan expect to work him out after
closer, Dan's voice had softened to almost a caress,
"Give me breathing space, and give me a chance."
His smile bordered on sad, "that's why I came with
you, hoping that here, away from everything, we can
scrape the shit back together."
More nights, more longing, more of that aching, empty,
pointless pain. "You have time." Two weeks.
Pathetic. It wouldn't work. But then, a week could be
forever, if spent alone in the mountains. Torture only
took a few hours. Who are you, Vadim? I have no idea.
"They just ... fucked me up worse than I ever was.
This is ... not me. This is my broken bones."
am beginning to see that." Dan said quietly, "but
I haven't had a chance yet to really understand. I was
too hurt and too angry; I was too blind."
forced himself to breathe, looked at the cocktail, and
swallowed dryly. He wanted to be safe, and sitting here
exposed didn't work. He should be scurrying for safety,
and knew that no hotel room was big enough that he wouldn't
feel trapped. One thing he could do to not feel himself
that badly right now. Go swimming. Escape into the ocean.
He was drunk, but not too badly. If he could walk, he
could swim. "You have time. I'm sorry. Was a mistake,
bringing it up."
shook his head but said nothing, didn't know what. He'd
verbalised his thoughts best he could, but even the
thoughts were confused. What he did know for certain
was how hard it was to sit that close and not to touch,
while all he wanted was touch. He settled back in the
chair again, tried another smile at Vadim, before sampling
the cocktail. He'd get drunk tonight, come what may.
nodded at that smile, didn't have enough control to
return it, and stood. "Thanks for the company.
I ... appreciate it." Sounded wrong and formal,
but he needed the distance now, and could only fall
back on his manners. "Jet lag. I ... should lie
down." Placed his hand flat on the table for a
heartbeat when Dan nodded. "Give me a call when
you want. Good night."
moved away, forced himself into complete stoicism on
the way to the bungalow, where he shed the clothes,
again sickeningly pulled towards the mirror, looking
at himself when he undressed. Didn't look broken. Nothing
showed what was going on inside, only that haunted,
pained expression in his eyes. "Fuck you",
Vadim muttered, and meant the torturer, and himself.
he headed out onto the beach, kept his shorts on, he
didn't want to expose himself completely, bad enough
as it already was, and headed into the ocean that lapped
at his feet, ankles, knees, thighs, warm and alive.
Much, much better than he remembered it, and he dove
into the waves, the moon bright enough to find his way
and tell land from sea.
watched Vadim retreat until he could not see him anymore,
then emptied his glass in one go, before starting on
the one Vadim had left, while ordering another. The
sun had long set and the terrace was aglow with the
light of candles in coloured glasses, creating jewelled
patterns on the wooden decking. Dan sat, his shades
back on, looking out over the beach and the ocean, listening
to voices around him and the sound of the surf, the
one constant amongst the chaos. Sky, sea, and yet he
was missing the mountains.
some stage, a lady came up to his table. A tourist like
him, smiling and asking if he minded company, but while
he tried to be polite as he declined, Dan couldn't bear
to sit and attempt small talk, least of all when there
was no chance of suitable sex afterwards. But even sex
seemed stale. He wasn't sure if right now he'd want
to fuck around with Matt or Hooch, not even Jean. They
all had either someone or no one, black or white, and
not this fucked up sense of longing, need, and equal
measures of dread.
he was drunk enough and the coloured lights began to
swirl with the rhythm of the ocean, he made his way
back to the bungalow. Couldn't help but look out for
Vadim, or at least light from the windows, but saw nothing.
Perhaps it was simply too late; the night, the time
and their lives.
fell asleep on top of the bed, naked, sprawled across,
not anymore noticing the itching beneath the plaster
cast, and hardly neither the one feeling that had been
increasing steadily since they'd boarded the plane:
slept long the next morning, was neither woken by sunshine
streaming into the vast room, nor by an attempt to deliver
the clothes Vadim had bought the day before. Not even
by birds chirping as if there was nor tomorrow, and
neither by hunger, thirst nor heat. Booze was a great
tranquilizer and he'd done his best to kill himself
he finally emerged into the sunlight, smoking a cigarette
on the veranda, he blinked into the light, despite the
shades. Half-woken himself by a shower, he wore the
new swimming shorts from the pile that had waited in
front of his door, and a t-shirt over it to avoid curdling
milk and blinding innocent children with the scarred
look of his body. Feet in brand new flip flops, the
old ones reluctantly discarded at last, he pondered
to search for brunch himself, ask for room service,
or get down to the beach to soak in the sun and do just
about nothing, or to try and see if Vadim was around.
was cursing himself when, predictably, he went for the
latter and was calling out Vadim's name from the veranda.
was still in bed. He had managed to sleep through the
five o' clock threshold. Doors and windows were open,
a gentle breeze coming into the bungalow, making palm
leaves rustle outside.
calling his name got him awake instantly, and he cursed
himself for not having followed his original plan to
go shopping before Dan would, most likely, appear. Then
again - no schedule, no fixed times, no deadlines. "Come
on in." He got out of the bed, grabbed the pile
of clothes on a carved stool and vanished into the bathroom,
earning himself a perplexed look from Dan, who didn't
get the haste.
already?" Vadim called, starting to get dressed.
Knew his body would betray him if he was too close,
and he wanted to keep things ... less intense. And showing
Dan what lying semi-awake and somewhat lonely did to
his body, with blood in the wrong parts, would be a
great way to 'be friends' for the moment.
Lighting another fag, Dan scratched his stomach, looking
for somewhere to sit and settling on the bed. Drawn
to the tumbled sheets, still warm from the body, and
still harbouring the scent.
if you wanted to go for brunch, didn't expect you to
be still in bed."
me a while to fall asleep. I was swimming."
hand kept gliding over the sheets, "I won't be
able to do much other than lying around on the beach,
anyway." Smiling to himself. "Woe is me and
checked himself in the mirror, tried a number of different
'positive expressions' - grin, smirk, smile - then opened
the door. "Well, there's a number of activities.
You don't have to get fat and lazy here."
grinned, "wouldn't mind a bit of the 'fat' thing.
It's a hell of a job to keep the weight on." Fuck,
that reminded him, he'd forgotten to take his pills,
two days in a row.
you certainly gave it a go yesterday." Vadim stepped
out and gave positive expression number three: a smile
- which faltered a little with Dan sitting on the bed.
Would love to kiss him and get him to stretch out, with
him on top. "I was planning to get the whole full
body traditional Thai massage."
good to me," Dan turned his head to look at Vadim,
smiling in return. "Unless they go heavy handed
on the bruises." Fag between his lips, he used
his right hand to swiftly lift his t-shirt, showing
off the truly spectacular arrangement of blues, greens,
yellows, purples and browns. "Think it'd do that
stuff any good? I look like a human camo pattern."
of muscles, and scars, and ... well, more colours than
was painless. "It would. There are few things in
the world that a good massage can't make better."
Vadim grinned, and his grin broadened suddenly. Afghanistan.
Mass grave. And 'massage'. Too precious an opening to
not use. "Of course, the Thai girls have much smaller
took Dan a second to cotton on, but when he did he almost
choked on his own fag. Dropping the shirt back down,
he didn't know what to do with himself. "Aye."
The most intelligent answer he could find, "guess
so." He remembered to take the cigarette out of
his mouth, gazed at the growing ash, and got up. Flicking
the ash off was a great excuse to get onto the veranda
and away from the memories. As if. "Food first,
then. Massage after that, and whatever those Thai girls
can come up with."
kept his features carefully neutral. Embarrassing Dan,
even if it was just an attempt at banter, wouldn't get
him further. "I need to buy a few things
clothes, so if you want to start with breakfast, I'll
join you in a few minutes?"
I'll see you later, then." Casting a swift smile
at Vadim, Dan headed off to the buffet area, where he
started a long and complicated meandering pattern through
all the delicacies that were laid out amongst fresh
flowers, crushed ice and beautifully carved fruit. He
was taking his time, working his way through plateful
after plateful, as if he were a hoover. Never satisfied
with enough food, yet never gaining weight.
forced himself to go to the shop, where the little Thai
woman tried her utmost to help him without being pushy,
and he found himself relish the kindness that was both
completely innocent and heartfelt - without the trace
of idea what he was, or who he was, or what he was capable
might be like that one day, he thought, when retiring.
The old men in the Moscow Metro, some of them had been
killers once, killing Germans, but now they just were
old and spent and some of them kind, but no one thought
of them as killers anymore. Or maybe in a place as far
removed from everything as Thailand. A country without
Cold War, and without the memory of one.
bought what he thought he needed, rather one shirt more
than too few, swimming trunks as well, clinging things
that traced the lines of his hips and sat there like
second skin. Dark blue, two of them, because he liked
the cut, and a somewhat more daring one with far less
cloth and far more expensive. Now, that was displaying
was getting dreadfully bored with looking at the scenery
through his shades, when he finally caught a glance
of a tall, blond man. Strange, how suddenly something
jumped from stomach to throat, his insides entirely
occupied with churning over while gazing at Vadim.
found Dan almost immediately and headed towards his
table. "This place available?"
face broke into a grin and nodded, while pointing at
the bag Vadim carried. "Took an awful long time
to buy very little. Anyway, what is it?" Trying
to take a peek.
shook his head. "Just swimming gear." Keeping
the bag covered when Dan shrugged. "I thought about
a swim after the massage. If I can get up again. You're
stuffed full, you better play catch-up before the little
Thai girls get their hands on us."
idea." Vadim left the bag with Dan, didn't think
he would actually check it, and gathered a pile of bites
- some of this, some of that - before returning. "Not
a real English breakfast, hm?"
probably a good thing. After all, if you can't have
square sausage and black pudding for breakfast, then
you shouldn't bother." Dan grinned, lit a fag,
but kept it out of Vadim's reach and blew the smoke
the other way.
shook his head. Square sausage? What was that supposed
to mean. And pudding. Typical of Dan to start breakfast
with a dessert.
long did you swim last night? I checked if there was
light when I got back, but your place was dark."
don't really know. A couple hours?" Yes, the moon
had been somewhere else when he returned, and he remembered
nearly crawling through the surf, deliciously exhausted."I
tend to lose track of time. Like in the athlete school.
You were finished when the coach said 'finished'."
coach ... that's not the masseur, is it?"
no. No." Vadim laughed and shook his head. "The
coach was a bastard. He said we'd become proper swimmers,
or drown. We were young enough to believe him."
young were you anyway? And how the hell did you get
into swimming, or sports, in the first place?"
Dan was leaning closer, beginning to realise there were
whole worlds worth of information about Vadim he didn't
was good at sports in school. And there were
head-hunters around. I don't know how exactly all that
worked in my case, but they offered us a 'special school',
'special training', and the potential to join the official
team, while still finishing school properly. Well, I
trained to become a swimmer. And I was then later mustered
for the two years military service, and kept up my training
- becoming spetsnaz and an officer was a way to combine
both. Many Soviet athletes had a military background,
it was their idea. But I wasn't good enough, overall.
Not as a swimmer, anyway, and the Pentathlon team
well, you know the story. But I was an officer, and
spetsnaz, so they sent me to Tadjikistan, later Afghanistan."
listened attentively and nodded occasionally. He wanted
to ask questions about Vadim's family, and most of all
The Bitch, but he couldn't, lest his painful secret
should ever come out. "Aye, and that was that,
then. We started our story eleven years ago, on a goddamned
horrible night in Kabul."
small smile ghosted across Dan's face, twisting the
scar into darkness. "I never asked
it correct that you were taken out of Afghanistan the
very same morning of the kidnapping?" Two and a
half years in blindness.
put the fork down, didn't want to eat with that subject
between them. Would only taste ashes and dust, anyway.
"Yes. Straight to Kabul airport. Rushed out of
the country, left with what was probably the very first
plane leaving. I couldn't see anything."
nodded, his voice lowering, as if using too much volume
would make the past even more unbearable. "I thought
so. I just about made it to the embassy, but we could
not find any trace of you anymore, and I wasn't able
to get out of the compound." He had just about
finished his fag, lighting another. Taking a deep drag,
Dan stared at the smoke. How apt, it all curled in tendrils
into nothing. "They had KGB killers in the hotel."
looked up. "They were comrades. If you killed them,
you killed men that were trained
the same lines as I was.
they lived I wouldn't be alive." Dan looked at
his hand that was holding the fag.
deserved what they got. If I'd had any chance to kill
any of them, I would have." Vadim rubbed his neck,
remembering the horror of being dragged around half
the world only to enact some petty revenge for a crime
he'd never committed. Pure spite. No justice being served.
Just because they could. Just the KGB saying 'fuck you'
to the Interior Ministry.
have always wondered for how long they had known. The
" Dan trailed off, it made him
sick to think of the camera, of others dissecting the
pictures like vultures. "Fucking film." Murmured.
Might have been my superior. Might have been somebody
I have no idea. I was careful. Maybe
they didn't expect us in that room, or were spying on
you as the head of security. They never told me
Of course not. Keep the interrogated guessing as much
shook his head, "I don't know, have no idea. Maggie
was the only one who knew about us, but fuck, she'd
go down with the Titanic if she had to." He shrugged,
inhaled the smoke, "I just don't know." It
took him a while to get up the courage to ask, and Dan's
voice was getting flatter. "So your
told you the 'story'?" He swallowed, and a thought
crept into his mind. If it was too hard for him to talk
about this, how would it be for Vadim? But there was
so much that had never been said, how could they go
anywhere if they were stuck three steps behind?
looked to the side. Sun, beach, tourists checking their
cameras, smiling Thais. Not Moscow. Not the Lubyanka.
Not trapped, beaten, fucked up. "He did."
His father. Tears of shame for the man, tears of sorrow
for the son. Vadim struggled. "It was
They were fucking with my head. Getting confirmation
you'd made it
I thought I was ready to die
when I heard you'd made it."
," what, Dan. Are glad that the father told
the story? Thankful for The Bitch that she had kept
the end of the godforsaken bargain? "I wanted you
to know that I loved you." Funny, swallowing had
become nearly impossible. "It was
thing I could do, when
" you were about to
die and I was screaming inside, ready to give up living
and instead just exist. "I could never thank your
father." Barely above a whisper.
closed his eyes. "I knew. At some point
all I did was hope you'd
go on. You know. Find
somebody and live." He inhaled deeply. "My
father asked me what it meant
was crying like the most wretched soul on the planet.
"I told him it means that
if they kill me,
that's the price to pay. I never believed in anything
he believed in, all his ideas about Russia's true soul
he was disappointed I was unprincipled, with
no higher aspirations in life. He said I was a true
Soviet, and that was not
a compliment. I told
him I finally knew what I wanted, and had for a while."
Vadim swallowed. "He asked me whether it was correct
I'd, you know. Had sex with an enemy. Whether
it was true. That I'd lied all the time."
didn't want to interrupt, hardly dared to move, let
alone make a noise. Waited until nothing further seemed
to be forthcoming before he quietly asked, "Lied?"
Vadim's family? The wife? That life that had nothing
to do with him, Dan, except for those dreadful hours
in Hungary, one and a half years ago.
Katya, and who I was." Vadim kept
his eyes in the distance. "I told him yes. I'm
a liar, a faggot, a killer, a war criminal
not the good man he tried to make me. That I didn't
have his convictions. His faith. That all I had was
emotions." Vadim shook his head. "He
said he couldn't understand how I could shame him and
my family in this way
on top of all the others.
But that he'd forgive me
I'm his son, whatever
Dan felt cold anger creeping up on him, from behind
and right through the heart. "What fucking shame?
The fact you fucked me? Loved me? Wanted me? Or the
fact you are gay? I remember distinctly you told me
once, a long time ago, that that was just the way it
was and I shouldn't get uptight about it." Or maybe
he just imagined it, probably, but what the hell did
I admitted to being gay. Publicly. I have no idea what
it meant to my family. There were
lots of emotions
involved. Spite. There is no free press. Not even the
other Afganets got involved, or the 'peace activists'."
are not a war criminal, Vadim. You're just fucking gay,
that's hardly a crime." And they would have thrown
him out of the British Forces, dishonoured, if they'd
ever known. "Whatever lies are on a piece of paper
with your signature, I know as much as you do, that
you never committed any crime. Not with me anyway."
looked up. "No. The other things I did. A disgrace
to the Soviet Army and my fellow officers."
things', you mean the sex? And raping silent conscripts
wouldn't have been a disgrace?" Dan's eyes were
on fire, but hidden behind the shades.
That was one of them. One of the crimes." Or a
few dozen. He had no idea how many. Couldn't remember.
They'd been just bodies, not even numbers. Something
he had committed because he was gay.
were those crimes? I want to know." Demand even.
Needing to bloody well understand.
shook his head. "Fighting the war the way we did.
The conscripts were just tools. The murders, the assassinations,
meatgrinder. The beatings. The fact we put
these children into this place and watched them get
your family? They used you as much as you used them."
What about them, what about the fucking Bitch whose
head Dan still wanted to rip off.
too simple, Dan. Family sticks together. My children.
My father. His family, cousins and uncles
all connected, all one. It's not about using, it's about
answer me that, how much did you help them, and how
much did they help you in return? It's damn easy to
be self righteous when you get money sent from the fool
out there in hell."
my duty as the son and husband to provide if they need
something. My father raised me. I owe him respect, as
much as we disagree on politics. And there were good
things, too. He taught me a lot. It's family, Dan. The
money doesn't matter."
bullshit!" The cigarette long finished, Dan's fist
slammed onto the table, causing some of the patrons
to glance over, perturbed. "A man fucks a woman."
Or vice versa? Not go there. "A child grows in
the woman. The child is born. And the child is supposed
to be bloody thankful for that? So, would it have been
better if you had topped yourself, way back, when you
realised you were gay? Because then you wouldn't have
brought the dishonour of having a homosexual son, cousin,
uncle, father, goodness what into the family?"
swallowed. "This way I could belong, Dan. It was
my shot at a life. Something more than killing people.
respected. Have a part in something."
He shook his head. "They would have never known
about me, if they
if the KGB hadn't decided to
make this agony. They tried to kill me in all ways.
the hearts of my family. Of course they
asked what they had done wrong. How they could have
shot right into his guts and poured acid in Dan's heart.
Agony and killing in all ways, in his
heart as well? "Who asked, your family? Your father?
ex-wife?" He could hardly say the word.
father. Katya knew. Katya always knew. She was the only
one who knew. Played along for the family, too. Hers,
as in her children?" Too thin the ice, and
Dan shook his head. No, not this subject, and he looked
at his hand, flat on the table now.
parents. She fooled everybody." Vadim shook his
head. "I just hope it didn't catch up with her.
But she should be safe."
shook his head, couldn't go on. Not this subject. Too
close, and far too personal. He looked up and shook
his head again, like a wet dog. "Anyway, the Thai
massage?" Yes, he was a coward for changing the
subject like that, but there was too much he had to
nodded and stood. Relaxing would be good now, just maybe
drift off to sleep, and forget all that. At least for
a little. Until he could face it again. They headed
towards one of those reed covered huts, carved, golden
shimmering wood, where the Thai girls awaited them.
a little later, Vadim was flat on his back on a wooden
massage bed, a towel wrapped around his waist, and smelt
oil and something more aromatic, herbs, flowers
sandalwood? He had no idea.
was lying close by. Two of the four massage beds were
unoccupied, and they were alone, both stripped, and
lying down. Dan had his eyes open, watching the girls,
the shades still on his face. They hadn't reacted much
to the sight of his torn body, the politeness impeccable,
and nodding with understanding smiles when confronted
with the bruises. Dan was trying hard not to look at
Vadim, too great the temptation, but eventually, while
they were working on him with skilful hands and warmed
oils, his head fell to the side and his eyes drooped
onto half-mast, unable to stop looking. The body, just
as he remembered it, yet different to the thin and pale
man who had come out of the woods at the Finnish border.
No, not thinking about that night. If he did, he wanted
to carve the loss into Vadim's flesh and he'd done that
before. A decade ago.
relaxed almost immediately - and it was very different
from the massage he had known. The small girl used her
whole body to work on him, moved him around, at some
point she was using her feet, standing on him, and he
groaned when something in his lower back moved into
place, a locked vertebrae, most likely, or something
about his hip bone. After that, he was hers.
were a lot gentler with Dan, working gently on the bruises
and giving his body the symmetry back that his muscles
had lost when he got battered in the crash. He couldn't
help but relax until he fell asleep, lying on his front,
and snoring quietly.
rest of the day was spent with doing 'the touristy thing'
as Dan called it, taking a ride inland to look at temples,
statues, and whatever else was considered to be worth
gazing at, until Dan had enough after a few hours. His
attention span clearly overstretched after the third
temple and the umpteenth sculpture of smiling gold.
When they got back, he opted for an afternoon on the
beach, lying in the sun and sipping more of those sweet
cocktail concoctions. Soaking up sun while covering
up the worst of his scars, while Vadim went out into
the ocean once more, swimming.
night, at dinner, Dan had made an effort after his shower,
and dressed in something other than shorts and flip
flops. Instead he had gone raiding the pile and pulled
out a pair of khaki jeans, more or less blindly searching
for a top, deciding on a sand coloured shirt, and went
for the Chucks once more. He even stopped for a moment
to look at the mirror before heading out to the buffet
area to meet Vadim. He even took the obligatory shades
off, once he had reached the table.
was wearing a pair of light trousers and an open white
shirt which showed his skin was reddened, but not burnt
yet. Another day like that, and he would, so he planned
to have more 'treatments' as they called it, massage,
waxing, he might even take part in a couple of the classes,
meditation, and yoga, which seemed to be a very fashionable
thing to do. He looked up from the Thai interpretation
of a Caesar's salad. It was already easier to be around
Dan - no awkward formality. It just seemed to fall back
into ways he knew - or at least could deal with.
smiled, grinned at the reddened skin, remembering all
those times Vadim had complained about the sun, back
in Afghanistan, then sat down. He wasn't going to skirt
around the subject tonight, and when he tucked into
a bowl of shrimps, he launched the first attack. "I
think it's time we find out what on earth happened in
the meantime. For example, I'd like to know, how the
fuck did you actually get here? I mean, how did they
put you back together? You look like you used to look,
not the pale skeleton from over half a year ago."
put the fork down and reached for the water, drinking
a huge glass of cold water, gathering his thoughts.
"I think it's the baroness who's to blame. I had
some ... trouble in Sweden, and somebody there convinced
me to ... face my past." Vadim grinned, shaking
his head, when Dan rolled his eyes. "Or something.
To deal with it. I ... found her and was in touch, to
... let you know, and maybe find a place to live, somehow.
She was far more generous than I hoped, and gave me
a ... chance to live. Passport. Something to do. I was
trained with the Royal Marines, and passed SAS selection.
Wasn't easy on these old bones. Apart from that, I improved
my English, too."
fucking bastard!" Dan exclaimed with a grin. His
equally surprised and impressed expression contrary
to the words. "You passed selection? At forty-one?"
Shaking his head while muttering, "only you,
you butt-fuck crazy Russkie."
had a head start over the kids, though. I know survival.
The interrogation part, that was hard. But they prepared
me well: Medical supervision, diet plan, counselling.
A very nice older doctor made sure my nutbox of a brain
complied. Training was hard enough to forget a great
many things ... not thinking is a luxury. Be all you
can be, isn't it? They got me back into ... well, almost
back into what I would have been like if it hadn't happened.
I hoped they would send me where you were ... to ...
apologize. To ... tell you I'm fucked up and that's
why ... I left you. I just couldn't walk, let alone
... run, I could feel nothing. I didn't feel myself.
I couldn't even think, really, wasn't the ... wasn't
me. And I hated ... myself for having ... these problems.
I kept thinking of the bullet. Would be a great deal
... less difficult."
swallowed, put the fork down, wiping his greasy fingers.
"And here I was yelling at you, calling you a fucking
cunt and being ready to smash your face in, even wanting
to kill you. All because I was so goddamned hurt."
He dropped his gaze, taking in a deep breath before
looking back up. "I am sorry, Vadim. I did not
could not understand."
lowered his gaze and felt his throat constrict. If he
wasn't careful he'd start crying, and he just couldn't.
"It's alright. I fucked it up, too. I should have
stayed. But I just couldn't feel."
dropped his eyes once more when Vadim looked away, staring
at the other's hand, which lay curled into a loose fist
on the table. His own so close, palm flattened, all
he wanted was to reach out across the few inches and
touch. But he couldn't, knew what would happen if he
touched Vadim. He'd never let go again and he didn't
quite dare yet. "I don't know
like. It's hard to understand ... to understand you.
What I can do, what I can't; what you feel, what you
can't stand, and why
you scream." If he
touched, would it all cease to matter? Trying to catch
Vadim's eyes, and Vadim seemed reluctant, no, ashamed
to meet his gaze, on the verge of turning away.
don't remember when I wake up. Only ... hazy things,
like ... fear. I fear going mad. I fear nothing's real,
and I'm still in that ... box."
wish I could tell you what I felt since you were taken."
nodded, silently, fighting that wave of nausea and pain,
the darkness that welled up. "Yes."
Dan frowned. Yes. This time, that meant a 'no'. "OK."
But it wasn't. None of this was, neither he nor Vadim
nor the whole situation. If only he could free himself
from this man, but he had drunk the poison, all those
years ago, and he would never be able to wash it out
of his system. Best face it, Vadim was in his bones,
his blood, his thoughts and his heart. The crucial question
was simply 'how', not 'if'.
get some more food." His plate still
mostly full, Dan stood up and turned away.
suddenly reached out and put a hand on Dan's arm, trying
to hold him back before he turned away. "I just
... feel guilty as fuck." He stood while Dan stared
silently at his hand.
there, eating, Vadim couldn't manage. He wanted to run,
to swim, to exert himself. "And I shouldn't be
... jealous. I wanted you to find somebody else. Now
that you have ... I should be glad for you. No use trying
to force anything."
haven't 'found anyone else'. What the fuck makes you
think that?" Vadim's hand on his arm felt like
a searing presence. He wanted to claw at it, take it,
hold it and press it against his skin. Did nothing instead.
"I'm blowing off a bit of steam with some guys.
Hell, how many blokes did you fuck with, raped conscripts
excluded, with whom you were nothing but mates?"
Sasha, Vanya, Gavriil, Platon. But Sasha had been far
more interested in Katya. Platon had been the only one
with whom he'd spend any significant amount of time
- up to the point that Platon's comrades had thought
them friends. That memory didn't hurt, didn't trigger
shame, it was just there, with a faint bit of regret,
didn't really touch him. "But Jean is better for
you. Or the Yank. They don't hurt you."
voice was getting angry, "where in all the fuck's
name did you get that idea from?"
have eyes. And there's always the bullet, Dan. It's
not just words. I have no idea how much it cost you.
I guess it was worse for you ... all I had to do was
... somehow get through it."
That was it, and Dan exploded. Shook the hand off his
arm, and caused several of the tourists to turn their
heads. "Are you fucking mad? Don't talk to me about
suicide, you bastard. Don't you dare take yourself out
of the gene pool, not now, not again. And what if it
was 'worse' for me? Who knows, I don't, and we will
never find out. I wasn't tortured. Fuck, all that matters
is that you are alive. Remember the bullet? The one
that you gave me on the roof? You'll live, you understand?
Fuck you, to all hell and back, you'll bloody well live!"
people had dropped their forks and knives, and conversation
in their immediate surroundings had stopped. Vadim was
too stunned to do or think anything.
even forgot his shades when he stormed off, towards
the beach, fuming with frustrated rage.
was roaming the beach in moonlight, until he had calmed
down enough to gather a coherent thought. He couldn't
understand that Vadim just wouldn't get it, that no
matter what he said, the other would only understand
a strange gobbledegook, some weird-ass transliterated
meaning that kept coming back again and again to 'you
are a failure you lost him you hurt him he doesn't want
you' or similar shit. It was like speaking in an alien
language that no matter how hard Dan tried, would only
ever translate into something negative.
could Vadim misunderstand everything? Words like 'I
love you and always will' or 'if I touch you I am lost,
I want you I need you', and 'they are buddies, the sex
means nothing except for fun', how the fuck could they
all end up translated into something Dan had never meant
and did not even understand. It hurt, and he was helpless,
but when it came down to it, he knew he would never
be free from Vadim. He could either make this hell,
or take at least what he could.
finally made his way into town, found some night clubs,
tried a pussy one first, then ventured into a 'ladyboys'
one, not quite sure what on earth that meant, only to
fend clusters of beautiful 'girls' off, who, no matter
how male they were beneath, did not spark his interest
in the slightest.
was well into the early hours of the night, when he
returned to his bungalow, with several drinks inside,
but no closer to clarification, let alone a solution.
sat on the veranda - not his own, but Dan's. Simply
because he couldn't really observe Dan's bungalow from
his own veranda. Dan was gone when he'd checked, and
Vadim assumed he would be back. He hadn't checked out,
hadn't been on any transfer buses or taxis to the airport.
For all their unobtrusive near invisible service, these
Thais sure saw everything.
had tried to read, but couldn't concentrate. It was
like the words went right through him, like concentration
failed, his mind didn't grasp the words, and he didn't
want to read something that didn't require attention,
so he sat on Dan's veranda, watching the oddly luminous
surf lap at the beach, and the stars above. Didn't feel
hungry or thirsty, just sitting there, shorts, shirt,
swimming trunks underneath just in case he needed to
escape into the ocean. What he liked about the ocean
was the fact that it was the direct opposite to a wall.
Or a room. It just went on, for as far as he could reach,
had just lit another cigarette, the sizzling sound of
burning tobacco and the smell of nicotine preceded his
arrival. Walking up the couple of steps he stopped dead,
seeing a shadow sitting in one of the chairs. No, not
shadow, too light the hair, and those eyes reflected
Russkie." He murmured a greeting.
turned his head to face Dan fully, then smiled. "Hey,
Dan. You alright? I couldn't sleep." Hey, stranger,
fancy meeting you here. Any plans for tonight? If it
only was that easy.
Blowing smoke into the air, Dan looked at those eyes
and the smile. There was no escape, that was it. He'd
better accept it. "Been to a couple of clubs. 'Ladyboys'
are a strange thing." He shrugged, leaning against
they?" Vadim had no idea what they were, only knew
that Thailand catered to the most bizarre appetites.
He studied Dan, thought it didn't matter if he'd visited
a whore, didn't matter at all.
The Dan fell silent, smoking, until he finally offered
some more of an explanation. "They look like beautiful
girls but are boys. Not my type. Boys do nothing for
me, only men do." Another plume of smoke, "real
men. Even Jarheads don't quite cut it. Too young."
smiled, again. He couldn't imagine Dan with a boy. Let
alone one in female dress. How weird was that? Something
one wanted dressed up as something that one didn't want.
"Donahue? Very young." Conscript age, slightly
more than that. Not very satisfying, but he had been
able to make do with it. Or Platon. Yes, they could
be young, but they had to have courage and willpower
and they had to be smart.
His name is Matt, and he's been gracious enough to still
talk to me, but I don't think he'll ever go for the
tall blond Slavic types." Dan shrugged, and somehow
he didn't care anymore what he was saying. Didn't matter,
did it? Since whatever he said was misunderstood anyway.
"Still, the kid taught me a lesson."
did?" Vadim paused, wondering what that lesson
could have been. Faltered, and finally asked. "What
did he teach you?"
sex can be fun. Just that: fun. No more, no less. No
strings attached and no hidden depths. Just plain old
fun with someone who doesn't own your body and soul."
The fag was almost finished, he chucked it over the
railing into the sand. "You should be thankful
to him, actually. Because frankly, he came at the right
time. I had just got myself into the habit of suicide
missions and fights with really bad odds against myself.
Seeking every scrap of fucked-up adrenaline I could
find, when he showed me that there's something else
worth living for." He shrugged again, "Fun.
Sex. Laughter." Fishing for his pack of fags to
light another, "friendship."
had his elbows on the table, lowered his head to rub
his neck with both hands, kneading there, and felt uneasy.
Thankful to the Yank? But Dan bent of self-destruction?
Didn't like either thought. "Look, I'm sorry. I
shouldn't have done that, not the way I did. He
was fairly tough, for one his age. I felt
sorry for him. I know what it's like to be
He frowned, darkly. "Especially if he's good for
you." That was the most he could do.
doesn't really matter if he is good for me or not. What
you did was serious shit. Full stop. To anyone, unless
they deserve it." Dan shrugged again, quietly smoking.
"But I understand now that you weren't - or are?
- yourself. So I guess that's OK, then." He fell
found it hard to decipher the last sentences. As if
Dan was excusing what he had done with the fact he was
fucked up. "I always
accepted my consequences",
he muttered. "That's part of my fucking problem."
Marriage meant sticking to the family. Officer meant
integrity. He shook his head and stood. "This
is far worse than SAS selection. Like I have to
pass some kind of test and don't even know what the
scoring system is. I'm trying to be honest. I want to
pass. I want
I want you to respect me."
He heard the last words ring in his ears and shook his
head. "Anything I can do, anything at all, I'll
do it. I'd kneel, I'd beg, I'd die for it. I'm even
fucking living for it." He shook his head again,
felt helpless nausea where he would have felt rage,
once upon a time.
stared at Vadim, cigarette forgotten between his lips.
"You really want to die, do you?" His voice
sounded like ashes.
shook his head. "Only some of the time. I want
to live like a human. That's what I want. I want to
be respected. I want to find some way to live with myself.
But most of all, I want you."
do I." Dan's quiet voice hardly cut through the
sound of the surf, despite the stillness of the night.
"But I'm frightened as all fuck."
stepped closer, raised a hand and covered most of the
distance with that. "I won't leave. I won't kill
myself. I won't harm any of your friends. I'll stay
with you for the rest of my life, however much is left.
all you have to do is
and take me back. We can
work with the rest."
do respect you." The burnt-out fag long discarded,
Dan stood motionless. Not even daring to blink. "I
only lost respect in between. When you tried to make
me kill you, and what you did to my mates, and
and the fact you had left and come back," hastily
adding, "but I understand now. Well, I try, I do."
Yet he still didn't move, not one muscle. Tense and
rigid as a statue.
nodded, painfully, dropped the hand, which didn't want
to become a fist. No anger, just darkness, and nothing
to get him through that. "Respect's a start",
he murmured and forced himself to smile, and it was
a gargantuan effort to not just break down and cry or
beg. "It is something", he repeated, as if
to convince himself.
will teach you the true depth of shame, Vadim Petrovich.
I will break you in so many places that nobody will
recognize you - and then I will break you some more.
And even if you get out of this place alive, you will
have to live with what I left of you. I'm convinced
you can forget the scars on your back. But you will
never forget what I will do to your mind.
be the same, in your place. Likely worse." Vadim
glanced out over the sea to try and chase away the memory.
"The doctor said it would be hard."
'same', and what am I like?" Dan's eyes followed
the hand that had dropped, still lingering, "and
what did that shrink of yours mean?" Why was it
that all he wanted was to have that hand back on his
arm? Oh, yes, he remembered. That goddamned love thing,
and not to forget the desire. That one would never wane.
shook his head. He didn't want to accuse or beg. "He
alienation. That's what happened. I
lost touch. With everything. He said including myself.
He said it would be hard to
even pass for normal,
and harder to find a way I can live with this."
he also say what to do? I mean, is there anything others
can do? Anything I can do?" The frozen stance
suddenly unlocked, and Dan was able to move. "Tell
me, is there anything at all I can do? That fucking
helplessness is killing me." And that was the crux,
wasn't it? He was faced with this stranger, who was
so obviously hurting, and he couldn't reach him. He
had lost the ability to read Vadim.
shook his head. "He called it trauma. I have his
phone number. Maybe
call him. I told him about
you. Us." The 'us' seemed almost reaching too far.
There wasn't really an 'us' - apart from the time they'd
shared just before the arrest. Living like people. "He
Dan nodded, clinging to this as if it meant a lifeline,
"I'll call him. I want to know, I need to
know, because I need to understand. If there is anything
to read, to learn, I'll do it. Heck, Maggie gave me
stuff, tried to warn me and make me understand, but
I fell into all of this as naively as a goddamned stupid-faced
fresh recruit." He unexpectedly took a step closer,
invading Vadim's space, who inhaled sharply. Dan, so
close. "Anything, Vadim, do you understand? I'd
so close, and out of reach, but eager, and close. Vadim
nodded, throat tight, wanted to touch him again, and
knew it wasn't welcome. "I have the number in the
bungalow. I'll bring it over." Didn't move, just
stood there, didn't increase the distance. "He's
a good man. Wise."
call him tomorrow." Too close, because it wasn't
close enough. "Tonight
" Dan trailed
off, unable to stop his hand from moving. Not much,
mere inches, but his fingertips found their way, connecting
with fabric, warmed by the skin of Vadim's chest.
sensation amplified into a rifle butt, a punch, a bite.
Vadim closed his eyes and inhaled, expanded his chest.
First willing, purposeful touch in what was forever.
Couldn't beg, couldn't
didn't want to ask for
more time, or grant more time. They'd had mindblowing
sex while hating each other's guts. That at least was
something he could rely on
his body understanding
Dan's. "Your call", croaked Vadim. Please
have to understand, Vadim," Dan's voice had dropped
to a whisper, yet the intensity increased. "What
it means for me to touch you." He couldn't stop
it, though, simply couldn't. As much a victim of his
hand connecting, seeking, palm pressing against solid
muscle, as a victim of fists, knives and bullets.
understand. I do. And how could a simple touch make
him sweat? Vadim opened his eyes, saw Dan, the intensity
in his eyes that didn't accept any maybe or perhaps.
Do or die.
asked you, on the roof
," inhaling, for Dan,
such a simple task seemed painfully difficult right
now, "if I touched you, will you never leave me
again? Because I won't. There is no way. Whatever happens.
You're mine, and I wouldn't survive it any other way."
won't leave you. I'm yours. Body, heart and mind. Everything."
fuck," Dan breathed out, tilting his head just
a little bit, just that perfect angle. This was Vadim.
No Frenchman, no Yank, but his Russian. Eleven years,
more pain - and more pleasure - than should fit into
a lifetime. His lips touched the other's, and it was
like every feeling under the sun had gathered to form
a supernova. The touch was like searing agony, stabbing
through mind and heart.
reached to touch Dan, elated and surprised, for once
there was something that he hadn't messed up completely,
and had hardly believed possible, but Dan was always
difficult to predict, always stronger, and better, and
fiercer than he was given credit for. Fucking SAS. Made
to excel, and he smiled against Dan's lips, the tenderness
nearly breaking him.
believe you are alive," Dan whispered, before his
body took over, and lips parted, tongue seeking entrance
and heat, as it had done, so many times before, since
a goddamned cave in the motherfucking mountains.
opened his lips, it was almost too much, too intense,
but exactly what he'd wanted, only more intense than
his memory had yielded, or it was the time, or whatever,
and he leaned into the kiss, hands on Dan's shoulders,
arm, running down to his flanks and pulling him closer.
wanted to cry out, or scream and yell and destroy with
fists and boots. Anything, anything at all to break
through the onslaught of emotions, but all he had was
his lips, two arms, and one hand. Tongue, teeth, as
well, and the most intense sensation of feeling, physical,
mental, gathering deep in his guts, spreading and searing
through his body, travelling across blood. 'Vadim',
it hammered through his being, 'Vadim. Alive. Vadim.'
And he was lost. The kiss taking on intensity within
nothing but heartbeats, as he tried to swallow sounds,
bite down on taste, and crawl right into the other's
body. Taking possession. Owning. Wanting.
moaned, pressing against Dan's body, desire flaring
up, worse, more intense than he remembered, the 'tomorrow'
digging with sharp claws under his skin. Tomorrow. This
was more than he had hoped for, more than one night,
more than trying out each other's bodies, but actual
planning for whatever future they might have, and no
more longing and separation. Hand against Dan's neck,
fingers splayed to cup the back of his head. Smelling
him through flaring nostrils, lips open, hungry for
tongue and touch and everything else. The bed seemed
too far away. He had no idea how to get there.
and a half years of pain and hope, fighting and loss.
Love, longing, hatred and confusion, all culminating
in this, right now, touch, scent and taste. Tearing
at fabric, clawing at Vadim's body, knowing each angle
and plane, re-mapping the terrain while desperately
trying to feel more. Wanting to rip the other open to
envelop himself within skin and flesh, until their hearts
beat in sync, inseparable. The sounds he made were full
of distress, it was too much, wanting everything at
once, and couldn't ever get enough.
slid his hand between their bodies, pulling at the buttons
of Dan's shirt, damn near ripping a few off, only broke
the kiss for a moment to concentrate on one button that
seemed especially resilient, then kissed Dan's neck,
the side of his throat. Slipping the thing down over
Dan's shoulders, who stood transfixed, near trembling,
kissing the taut, curved flesh there. The pale, round
scar. The one where he had gambled Dan's life on the
chance trajectory of a bullet.
the shirt, he kissed downwards, Dan's chest, his warm
smell hitting him in the pit of his stomach, and he
went deeper while Dan shuddered, hardly keeping himself
upright. Kissing the bared scars over Dan's belt, jagged
lines of flesh, a trail of dark hair pointing him into
you had the chance, Vadim Petrovich, would you like
to suck me off.
gave a small start at the memory, suddenly, the torturer
felt the jolt beneath his hand, against his skin, "What?
What's wrong?" Rough voice, his hand roaming where
it could, he was bereft of lips, teeth and tongue, trying
to tug Vadim back up.
murmured Vadim, "important." He straightened
again, met Dan in another fierce kiss, pressing him
against himself, the naked skin tantalizing, warm, smooth,
powerful. How much he'd missed that, touching somebody
like this, without reservations, with nothing but trust
and need. Pulled his own shirt free, wanted to feel
Dan closer, and pulled it over his head. "Shouldn't
be rushing it, but fuck, I want to rush it. Badly."
" Dan stammered, couldn't bring his tongue
to form words, "I
He was trying to walk while kissing, cursing his broken
wrist and the useless hand, stumbling as he went backwards,
desperately clinging onto bare flesh.
nodded, exactly what he felt, wanted, and the beds were
great for sex. Plenty of space. He followed, pushing
Dan almost; thankfully, the huge room was mostly empty,
or they would have stumbled. Towards the bed, opening
Dan's belt, the button, wanted to bare him, touch him,
kiss him, suck him, just wanted to see and smell and
fucking have him again.
calves hit the bed before he realised he'd made it inside.
Wasn't paying attention to sight nor sound, just the
sensations of skin against skin and Vadim's hands on
his body, his own clutching at flesh and muscle. The
trousers were sliding down his hips once they'd been
opened, and he let himself fall backwards, trousers
at ankles, feet still in the canvas trainers. "Fuck."
He was working on Vadim's shorts one-handed. "Help."
He couldn't get their clothes off fast enough.
grinned, sharply, helped Dan with it, opened the shorts
and pulled them down with the swimming trunks he wore
underneath. No swimming tonight. Maybe later. Afterwards.
He knelt down, pulling the shorts over Dan's shoes,
who watched, then opened the laces and pulled the shoes
off, just dropping them, and kissed Dan's knee, moving
up to his thigh.
out Dan was too tempting to resist, sliding on top while
kissing his way up, staying away from Dan's cock for
the moment, skin on skin, chest to chest, kissing and
devouring Dan's lips, tongue, feeling the hard stomach
shudder and breathe against his cock.
fuck." Dan groaned out, tried to dig into the bared
flash, as if he could become one and feel Vadim forever.
Trying to hump their groins together, like a goddamned
teenager, ready to cum at the lightest touch. His hand
roamed, wanted both, but had to make do with five fingers
instead of ten. Used his lips and teeth instead, breaking
the kiss only to move down the throat to suck hard at
the burn mark. Unashamed of the needy whimpers that
came from somewhere deep inside of him.
groaned, hand and knees taking some weight off Dan,
too close to the edge of the bed. "Move
move up." Nudging Dan with his knee, who slid upwards,
keeping over him, savouring the sucking kisses against
his throat. Fuck, how much he wanted to feel him, around
him, inside him, taking his breath, everything, if only
he'd stay, if only they could stay together, wake up
like they had done far too rarely. Sliding down again,
pressing against Dan's groin, thrusting against him.
enemy's bitch. I can't believe how you could fall so
low. That how you made major, Vadim Petrovich? By taking
every officer's cock?
relished the weight on top of him, could feel more that
way, felt Vadim was truly there, not just his torturing
" murmured against
" skin under his lips,
"alive!" Breathless while clinging to the
body on top, devouring.
closed his eyes, concentrated just on the body underneath,
the gasps, using more weight and strength, too impatient,
too needy to make it last, or go about it with any kind
of restraint or finesse. Just pushing and sliding, increasing
friction with every motion. Could feel his own sweat
in the warm evening breeze, the hot, needing body, Dan
breathing, Dan's heart racing, his breath catching.
always used your beauty, Vadim Petrovich, just like
any whore that ever lived. For your advantage. For your
own, selfish ends. I never thought Vympel trained honey
traps, or did they send you to London to suck some degenerated
politician's cock and make photos of it?
stopped to think, was nothing but a body, hands, skin,
and most of all cock, engulfed and enveloped by heat
and scent, just Vadim. Forever Vadim, nothing but Vadim,
and two and a half years of agony, terror, loss and
hatred, were gone, erased, washed away with the crashing
surf that went from cock to mind, and all through his
body. He came against Vadim, didn't know he was yelling
his name, as if trying to fix the moment of complete
ecstasy. Never to let go again.
I touched you, would you never leave me again. And
when I cum against you, I make you mine.
dove into another deep kiss as he felt Dan come, thrust
harder against Dan's shudders, forced the torturer out
of his mind, only for a little while, managed to not
see himself through the KGB's eyes, but Dan's, and that
was enough to get him there. Feeling tears in his eyes
from the intensity, the tenderness of it, the abandon
he'd thought he'd lost. Cumming hard, every muscle in
his body taut and shuddering, pressed in deeper, harder,
then, slowly, relaxing. Wanting nothing but to fall
asleep on top of Dan.
said nothing, just couldn't. Only holding, arms wrapped
around the other's body, breathing hard. Wasn't enough,
and he moved his legs, lifted, bent, until he could
wrap them around Vadim as well. Didn't mind the weight,
it was reassurance. Enveloping, keeping. "Mine".
opened his eyes as Dan shifted and clung to him, and
gave a tender smile, one reserved for his children,
and now Dan. "Always." Sometimes, life could
be so simple. Dan made it simple, just bulldozered through
all the shit, never compromising. "Till death doth
us part, as they say." Only too likely in their
saw that smile, a smile he'd never seen before, and
something shifted inside. Opened, melted, and gave way,
like a knot unravelling, and a pain simply dissipating.
He could feel tears creeping into his eyes, and he didn't
even care. "Aye," he smiled back, crookedly,
"you want to marry me, Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada,
and make me an honourable man?"
smile turned into a grin. Don't be fucking stupid was
not the answer, suddenly. "You are an honourable
man already", he murmured against Dan's lips. "Honourable,
and loyal, and courageous. But you're not pregnant,
so no reason to marry." Keeping on the safe side.
"Even if I would."
Dan tightened his hold and rolled both of them onto
their sides, lying on his good side. "And here
goes my plan to snatch a big fish to provide for me,
so that I can retire." He grinned, and even that
was tender. The urge to cry was passing, but emotions
remained on the surface, raw and bare, despite the joking.
laughed. "Yeah. Like this merc's pimp." Touching
his chest. "You'd have enough pretty mercs for
a stable, but that's not how it works." Joking,
lightly, and Dan's dark eyes lit up, he hadn't known
how much he missed this rare side of Vadim.
want you with me, Dan, out there. Through good times
and bad times."
smiled, shifting his arm that was trapped beneath Vadim,
drawing lazy patterns on sweat damp skin. "I'll
never let go again. I hope you realise, you're in it
for good." He flashed a grin, "Still, I'm
sure I'd look pretty in a dress," chuckling, while
his lips moved in light kisses along Vadim's face, re-acquainting
himself with every shape. "I've got the legs for
rolled his eyes, but stretched his throat to get more
kisses there. "The legs, maybe, but not the shoulders."
wear a cape over it." Dan's low laughter made the
skin beneath his lips shiver. "As long as you carry
me over the threshold of our tin hut."
laughed. "You crazy fuck." Touching his forehead
to Dan's. "I do hope there will be more than one
of those for us, one day."
tin huts?" Dan's grin mellowed into a smile, softening
his features until even the scar in his face seemed
to blend into the tanned and stubbly skin. He stretched
his legs, making a face at the sticky dampness between
them. "We need a shower."
nodded, rolling over on his back, stretching his arms
out over his head, but Dan's hand never lost contact.
"Think we both fit, or should I swim a little over
there?" Pointing vaguely towards the ocean.
you're not leaving." Dan's expression grew more
serious, "you've got to understand what you got
yourself into, here. You'll stay. I won't let you out
of my sight if I can help it." Dan realised how
fucked up that sounded, bordering on mental, but he
didn't care. "The shower's big enough."
turned his head to grin at Dan. "Aye, if you say
so." Too relieved, relaxed and happy to worry about
the possessiveness. He didn't mind. He didn't want to
leave, either, not now, not ever. He got up, then padded
towards the bathroom, followed by Dan. Deciding against
the full bath, or the Jacuzzi outside. A quick shower
would do it. Vadim checked the water temperature, and
the shower was like hot rain, plenty of space for two
can't be bothered with the plastic bag." Dan watched
Vadim, already under the spray. "If I hold my arm
outside, will you wash me?"
wiped the water from his face and grinned. "Come
on, then." Stepping to the side, offering a hand
to steady Dan. Reaching for the shower gel and squeezing
a good amount into his hand. Drawn to how the water
made Dan's dark skin shine. Both hands on his chest,
soaping him up, watching the suds run down the smooth
skin and over the scars, over the cock, down his legs.
"Oh fuck. Can't say how
was watching intently, each movement, every facial expression.
what?" Water was running
over his face, through wild hair and into his mouth.
Trickling off the tip of his nose and gathering close
to his chin, dripping like tears and rain alike.
ran his hand over Dan's hair, smoothing it back out
of his brow, taking a handful and closing his fist,
then stepped closer to brush him. "
you. I wanted you. How much you
make me feel
smiled, the first word and thought that was coming to
his mind seemed not to make any sense. "Ditto."
His 'harem', his mates, the fights, the games, the laughter
and sex, the fist fights, and even Jean, nothing reached
him as deeply as Vadim. "One touch from you
water coated his lips, gathered in thick drops on his
dark lashes, "makes me feel more than a whole goddamned
grinned and kissed him again, feeling, for once, perfectly
normal. Not two mercs, not two killers, for once he
could imagine they were perfectly normal guys that had
fallen in love. Pulling Dan's head back to nip at his
jaw, his chin, the lower lip. "Keeping me around
for tonight, stranger?"
fucking bet on that." Dan grinned with closed eyes,
head tilted back, trusting completely, enough to blind
himself despite strange surroundings. Another first,
the shower, the R&R, together - in a place that
didn't know who they were. No past, only present and
perhaps, at last, a future. I love you, he thought,
and revelled in the luxury of not having to rush.
grinned, running teasing fingers down Dan's flanks,
to his ass. Dan had an ass to kill for, all taut muscle
and curves, slick skin, and only reluctantly breaking
the touch to get more shower gel. Washing Dan's legs,
and back up, cock and balls, licking his lips as he
did. Tried to keep the interrogator out of his head,
this time, but the man lingered. "For fuck's sake",
he muttered silently, exasperated.
Dan was jerked out of his silent enjoyment, thought
he'd heard or felt something, but perhaps it was just
the water running past his ears. "You alright?"
With those hands on his arse, cock and balls, though,
how could he gather a coherent thought.
than alright." Vadim shifted Dan's body to wash
away the soap, then got some more of the gel to wash
himself down quickly. He'd just forget the interrogation.
He'd just forget the man. Forget the accusations, the
cutting of his mind, the vivisection of everything he
was. He had Dan. He'd won, in the end.
out to switch off the water. "What about room service,
and some more
frolicking on the bed?"
Dan grinned, convinced he must have misheard. "Haven't
really eaten much and I could do with a cold beer. They
got some funky brands around here, had a few in the
ladyboy-bar." He stepped out of the shower, dripping
wet and standing with arms outstretched, as if waiting
for personal towel service.
reached for the bathrobe and put it on, but left the
belt open, then got one of the massive towels and flicked
it open, looking bemusedly at Dan's cocksure posture.
He couldn't help but flick the towel across Dan's ass.
"I think we can do something about that."
You bastard." Dan jumped at the towelled slap.
"I have you know that I've started and won fist
fights for less than that." Flashing a toothy grin,
as long as Vadim was there, close, what else did matter?
laughed, and then proceeded to towel him down. Some
orders were easier followed than others, and he loved
showing Dan just how much he wanted him, enjoyed him,
his presence. He put the towel to the side and ran a
hand down Dan's cheek, but couldn't speak, and didn't
want to, really, felt too raw already.
was quickly ordered - a plate of cold bites, various
kinds of meat and fish and fruit, all washed down with
a selection of beers, while Vadim had water. Lying stretched
out on the bed, naked, the food within reach, Dan always
touching, and then, finally, falling asleep, almost
wrapped around him.
took the beer bottle and pulled it slowly from Dan's
hand, put it down on the ground, and shifted to find
a good position, staring up at the ceiling.
then, was bliss. He had forgotten what it felt like,
this sense of completeness.