'o clock. Vadim opened his eyes to the grey pre-dawn
room, felt Dan wrapped around him, Dan's face against
his neck. Spooning. Dan. His. Life and living. Mission
accomplished. He had him back. No more feeling hollow
and empty and hurting, no more. Peace. Till death doth
us part. He turned, looked at Dan sleeping there, and
thought they should stay out of the wars, the Gulf,
or whatever fucking place decided to blow up next. Stay
the hell away because these wars were just inviting
disaster to happen. They should try and live in peace.
idly ran his fingers through Dan's hair, then turned
some more and kissed him on the brow, nose, lips. "I'll
go for a swim."
any reaction from Dan, just a nonsensical mumble, before
he rolled into the warm space vacated by Vadim. Curled
up into the thin bedclothes, his wild hair entangled
on the pillows. Dark and silver streaks, barely visible
in the murky light to come.
found the speedos, glanced back over his shoulder, but
Dan was sleeping on, relaxed, except for one fist, the
right one, that lay beside his head. Couldn't help but
smile at the image, and more at the thought that Dan
would be like this when he returned. Like he'd never
been a soldier, just somehow had shed all military time
keeping. He'd order breakfast on the way back.
Vadim returned, the sun was lighting up the entire room,
creating swirling patterns on the wooden floor, with
the breeze blowing the light gauze curtains into the
room. The smell of cigarette smoke was wafting across
the wide open space, a sign that Dan was awake. Lying
in the very middle of the vast bed, legs open, pillows
in his back, and arms flopped by his side, lifting his
head at the noise. His face was expressionless, until
he caught sight of Vadim and his lips began to curve
slightly, brighten, light touching his dark eyes, finally
shed the speedos on the way in, walked past to toss
them into the bathtub and gather two towels, one of
which he slung around his waist, drying himself with
the other. "A penny for your thoughts."
never seen the scar." Dan's answer came as swift
as a bullet. Didn't move anything but his eyes that
followed Vadim's movements.
paused, feeling oddly self-conscious about the scar.
He knew at once which scar. The other scar Dan had given
him. It had healed pretty well, all told. "I guess
you want to?" Cautious, not sure how to
read Dan now. Didn't want to lie down and open up and
get fucked. Not now. Too fast. The bitch that lay down
at a mere gesture, ready to take it and get fucked.
wonder if I can make a masochist suffer for real. Does
this make you hard, Krasnorada? Should I be less gentle?
not?" Dan smiled, confusion flickered across his
face, before it was gone again and he pulled himself
up to sit. As unselfconscious as ever. He held a hand
out, palm up, open. Beckoning. "You were gone when
I woke." His voice didn't hold accusation nor question.
I was swimming." Vadim stepped forward, then lay
down next to Dan, one towel still in place, but he let
the other slip from his hand.
really?" Dan rolled his eyes with a grin. "I
wouldn't have noticed, with you all wet and in those
things that are a mere excuse for swimming trunks."
will be breakfast in half an hour." Vadim turned
his head, looked at Dan and smiled. Felt slightly reluctant
as he took the towel off, still wanted Dan and always
would, but at the same time that submission, that acceptance,
just didn't come. Like his body had forgotten how good
it felt. Like he was some weird kind of virgin again,
reluctant, but willing.
missed you, waking." Dan turned his head, but remained
on his back, merely lifting his arm to lazily run his
hand down along Vadim's shoulder, arm, flank.
placed a hand against Dan's chest, saw the 'V' scar
on Dan's arm when he moved it, and thought all will
be good, we have the scars to prove it.
did it heal?" Dan murmured, as if reluctant to
breach anything that touched the subject of Vadim's
a while." Vadim felt that tightness in his throat
again. "They gave me an examination after they
brought me in. They were thorough." Bend over,
bitch. They'd checked everything, every place inside
and outside. As if he'd hide a gun in any of those unlikely
twitched, had been too late to hide the reaction. "That
means they saw
" he shook his
head, "Fuck, they knew anyway. That Colonel bastard
told me about the camera." He wanted to shudder,
instead just narrowed his eyes.
The trial. The transcription, read out to him, to mock
and humiliate him further.
makes a man want to be cut? Explain to me, Vadim Petrovich,
how you could possibly have wanted to be treated like
that, used and abused and injured by an enemy?
the medical, they put me away for a few hours, and then
warmed me up for the first
hand rested on Vadim's hip, a heavy, warm reminder.
"Did they break anything?"
shook his head. "I wasn't raped." He felt
himself choking on the next words. Couldn't say them.
didn't ..." mean that, Dan meant to say, but never
finished the sentence. Waited instead, still, except
for his fingers, curling and uncurling on the tautness
of Vadim's hips. Waiting, for what, he wasn't sure,
but for something that couldn't but should be said.
forced himself to breathe, keeping his eyes closed,
body went rigid without him noticing, like bracing against
a kick or punch. "
they said I'd enjoy it
too much." He tried to turn over, lie on his side,
wanted to get the words back, and couldn't. What a fucking
Speechless, Dan held onto Vadim's body, kept him from
rolling away. "Fucking what?"
was glad to be held, pressed against Dan but couldn't
look at him, wanted to die, or crawl away, hide.
will never recognize yourself, Vadim Petrovich. Never
again. If you walk out there to be shot like you deserve,
they will only finish you off. Because I am here to
kill you. You'll be a dead man walking. I will kill
your mind, your soul, your emotions. You will never
again function. Never again will you pass for normal
or even human.
they won't put me into prison because I'd
too much. Nobody there
Same reason. Because
I'd like it."
the biggest fucking load of fucking bullshit I have
ever heard. Did you believe that shit?" Dan's fingers
curled on Vadim's skin until his hand formed a fist.
"I don't claim I understand much of what Maggie
told me about isolation, but it's goddamned motherfucking
torture, Vadim, it's not because you like it.
Who the fuck told you that?"
Yes. Vadim forced himself to breathe. It was hard, but
he remembered how to. "I'll
Don't worry. I'm better than I've been in ages."
Vadim forced every muscle to relax, turned to look into
Dan's face, hoped he'd not see disgust, and what he
saw looked like anger and worry. "I can function.
just the shit they did
with my mind.
I'm operational." And that means soldiering and
shook his head in bewilderment. He didn't understand,
just that something had happened there, which was beyond
his comprehension because it had dug so deeply into
Vadim, it couldn't simply be extracted. He was angry,
wanted to slam that useless fist into the bastards'
faces, smashing the skulls of those who'd done this
this whatever it was, to Vadim. This thing
he could not understand, far greater and worse than
anything they'd ever done to each other.
lifted his hand, forced the fist to relax and open,
touching the ridge of Vadim's nose. Asking without words
if they'd broken any bones. The physical realm he could
understand, but the mind?
doctor says I'm in fairly good shape for a man my age."
Vadim reached up and took the hand, kissing the wrist,
while Dan felt like trying to hold onto a slippery fish.
Vadim still had not answered the question he'd asked
for the second time.
would make it whole again, Vadim thought. Nothing he
couldn't cope with as long as Dan was there. Just forget
it. Just try and find his feet again, and these sudden
attacks would cease. He'd sleep like normal, would be
able to do everything again. Free. He'd made it, shown
he'd made it, and had escaped. It would all be good.
Better not talk about it. The doctor could give better
explanations anyway. "I brought the phone number.
It's over there." Nodding towards the table. "And
I think I just heard our breakfast arrive outside."
Dan nodded, "I'll phone the doc, soon." He
turned his head towards the door, the breakfast had
indeed arrived. Still, when he watched Vadim wrap himself
into the towel once more, letting the waiter in, Dan
kept thinking. He'd still not seen the scar, not even
any kind of 'close-up', as if the other somehow avoided
the scrutiny - of body and mind.
stood there and watched the waiter set up the table
outside, gave a tip, and they were left alone again
with enough food to feed a squadron of soldiers. He
glanced back at Dan lying on the bed. Dan, who wanted
to see the scar, and who was watching him. "Just
didn't want to be interrupted", he murmured, and
came back to the bed. Suddenly nervous, he took the
towel off again and sat down on the bed, while Dan moved
to sit. Vadim lay back, pulled one leg up and stretched
out completely, relaxing.
suddenly felt a strange awkwardness, as if he had to
reacquaint himself with the other's body, his physical
presence. Seemed Vadim felt similar, or perhaps even
worse, in ways he could not understand. Despite the
night before, for one painful moment Vadim felt like
a stranger to him.
on the scar, the one letter, the cut that said 'mine'.
"Are you?" Dan looked up, merely touching
the scar with his fingertips. Tracing the clear-cut
smiled at him. "Yes." Opened his legs further,
knew it was an invitation, had the feeling things would
be easier if they did. Wanted Dan to know it wasn't
really all that different now, the basics were still
in place. Didn't want to be hard to get, or hard to
keep, mostly, not with Jean and Donahue only too willing
to snap him up. Dan had other places to go. Other people.
The fingertip tickled there, and Vadim studied Dan's
face, who smiled.
smile spread from Dan's lips to his eyes, until all
darkness disappeared from his scarred face. "I
do really fucking love you, you do understand that,
don't you? With bells and whistles and 'till death'
and all that shit."
you." Whatever's left of me loves
you. It's all I have left, Vadim thought, but it's enough
to get me to the end. I know it will.
dropped his voice while scooting closer, almost covering
Vadim's body with his own. Lying between the open legs,
his hand still resting on the scar. "If I touch
you, back in camp or wherever the fuck else, I really
don't give a shit what anyone thinks."
just itching to get into trouble with the CO, aren't
you? You know they will talk about it."
shrugged, a feat in his position. "The CO can't
do jack shit to me. As much as the bastard dislikes
me, he doesn't have a chance in hell he'll ever get
me kicked out. Anyone else? It's not like I'm eating
your face off in public. Neither do we go on out on
duty together. That'd be fucking lethal." He lowered
his head, lips touching Vadim's chest, kissing his way
slowly across and down. "No masks, comrade."
Murmured, "No lies."
looked down, following Dan's trail of lips. Fuck. He'd
forgotten how fucking good this felt. "No
lies." Live as a 'couple' in camp. There would
still be weird comments, that was the general tone and
feel there, but apart from sneering and the odd comment,
what could happen. They'd both stood their ground alone
would anybody dare to challenge them once Mad
the crazy spetsnaz were 'back together'?
Vadim groaned softly. "Dan
his head from Vadim's body, Dan murmured, "Aye?"
He had reached the abs, and his path downwards allowed
breathed hard, muscles tight, lines forming under Dan,
his body responding without questioning, without second
missed this so
" He let his head fall back, pulled
his legs up and kept them open, in case Dan wanted to
fuck him like this. He didn't mind. Would be good. Would
be so good.
have no fucking idea how much I missed this, too."
Dan barely more than whispered, before concentrating
once more on his task of kissing every inch of the exposed
skin. Taking the open legs for an invitation, even though
he was not sure anymore if the old signs were still
took his time, because they had this now, finally: the
greatest luxury of all. Time. Reaching the smooth skin,
softest silk and warmth, with recoiled strength beneath.
Lips and tongue tracing the lines he had cut, over two
years ago, making Vadim groan, cock hardening, in full
view of Dan, who suddenly stopped. Lifting his head
and peering at Vadim's face from across his body. "I've
always used protection since
just so you know.
I'm still clean."
glanced at him. Strange to say that. Clean? Oh. The
AIDS thing. That disease faggots and junkies got. Always
used protection. Donahue. Jean. And whoever else besides.
Would have preferred to not know, not be told. Never
spared a thought for that. "Doc says I'm clean,
moved his head, hair sweeping across skin. "I never
had anyone before you." He chuckled softly, lowering
his head once more and looking, really looking at that
cock before his eyes. Appreciating the sight and inhaling
the scent. "Perfectly monogamous." Murmured,
before tasting skin, hot-smooth hardness and precum
once more. After so long, Dan groaned when the taste
hit his palate and the feeling of perfect fit, as much
as absolutely knowing Vadim. What would create the greatest
lust. Which movements, touches, how his tongue slid,
his hand steadied and stroked, his teeth gently scraped,
then harder, steady, and it all came back to him, each
and every tiny detail. They were inextricably intertwined,
how could they ever have believed they could be parted.
Even death was not enough.
moaned, louder than he used to, thoughts wiped out at
that feeling he'd remembered, but was even better now.
Dan sucking and teasing him, better if that was possible,
the same relish, the same devil may care heartfelt intensity
that had never failed to blow his mind. He didn't care
who else Dan had had, like this or any other way, because
Dan wanted him back and was willing to keep him, and
fuck everything else, there was a solution, no problem,
none at all. Every motion made him groan and hiss, eyes
closed, knew the sight would drive him insane, the sounds
Dan made and the sensations.
took his time, reacquainting himself, indulging himself
with taste, touch and sound. Cocksucker, that's what
he was and what he wanted to be, but no one other than
Vadim could get to all his senses to deeply and completely.
was panting by now, thrusting up, a sheen of sweat on
his body, which just reacted, just moved with no interference
from his brain whatsoever. Reaching blindly for Dan's
shoulders, just touching him there with his fingertips,
groaning and allowing the sensations to wash through
him. He'd do anything. Confess anything, commit any
finally raised his head, lips and tongue moving up the
length of Vadim's cock, his good hand closing around
the shaft, strength pitted against lust. "I want
to fuck you, Vadim." His voice was rough with need,
"is that OK?" Didn't know why he felt he had
to ask, never had before.
opened his eyes, looked at Dan, his wet lips close to
his cock, still, that strangely serious expression in
his eyes, asking something, and Vadim felt so motherfucking
grateful it sent shivers up his spine. "Please,
for it, are you, Krasnorada? Like a good bitch?
shuddered, came up, took Dan's shoulders and pulled
him closer. "Do it. Don't ... make me beg."
Confusion, but then Dan forgot all about the thought,
when cock touched cock, and everything was different
all of a sudden. Not just a body, no mate nor friend,
no casual encounter, nothing and no one like this. This
familiarity, this knowing. This owning.
touching, Dan's knees between Vadim's legs. "Shit,"
he murmured, "where is the lube?"
gave a breathless laugh, Dan across him like this, the
sight of his cock, heavy and hard and veined, and he
found it impossible to speak. He glanced around, didn't
see the lube, not right away. "Try
he whispered, couldn't resist and came up to nip Dan's
nodded, but the nightstand was to his left and his hand
was still in plaster. "Damn." Rolled over
and off Vadim with a grunt when he hit the fading bruises,
until he could rummage in the drawer with his right.
Finding the tube of KY, kept it between his teeth. He
needed his hand to touch Vadim, run fingers down a shoulder
and back to the flank, the lube landing beside his head.
"I want to fuck you like I did in that cave
Been dreaming about that. Remembering. Everything, every
goddamned little thing."
nodded, rolled onto his side in front of Dan, craned
his neck to kiss him, hand touching Dan's leg, firm
grip as if testing the muscle underneath. Suddenly had
the strange feeling Dan didn't do this to any of his
other lovers - not this spooning, not fucking them slowly
on their sides. Couldn't imagine either Jean or Donahue
like this, but of course he might be wrong. "So
everything. You were
that fucking, stupid war
are worth everything, Dan thought, but couldn't say
it. Felt his throat suddenly constricted. Worth that
ex-wife of yours, worth a smashed room, worth suicide
missions, worth hatred and hell and worth all the money
and more. Said none of it, instead moved even closer,
handed the tube to Vadim, his own palm open. "Help
nodded, flicked the cap open and squeezed a good amount
of that stuff into Dan's palm, then put the lube down
near the pillow, and lifted his leg, which exposed the
scar there. He swallowed, curved his back to give Dan
a better angle, just falling back into it, wanting Dan
and what he'd do. "Good
good I found you
in the desert", he murmured to cover the moment
of nervousness. Been a while. Fuck.
.. . damn good thing." Dan rubbed the cool gel
all over his cock, before swiftly but thoroughly working
it between Vadim's cheeks, stalling a moment to relish
the sensation of his finger sliding unhindered through
the readily yielding muscle, making Vadim push back
against his hand.
was a time
" Dan murmured close to Vadim's
ear while his good hand worked him open. Insistent,
gently, yet unrelenting, and Vadim's breath went harder,
lips open, trying to speed things up and be ready.
time when I couldn't
Drawing in a deep breath, Dan found it hard to hold
himself back like this. "Too painful, then
but not now
." One finger was met by a second,
the third almost there as well.
nodded, sex had become impossible, some point he didn't
even feel any arousal, or anything but dread, and the
wanking in camp had been nothing but some kind of waste
disposal, a vaguely embarrassing function of his body,
nothing more. "Not
a virgin. Just
do it, like you
ah, did." He glanced over
his shoulder, leaned back to rub his head against Dan's
for a moment. "Come on."
shook his head, though, and smiled. Tender, despite
his flushed face and almost feverishly gleaming eyes.
"It's been so long." Murmured, while his fingers
pulled out, before pushing back, three this time, making
Vadim groan and buck back, unable to control the building
lust that washed away what disgust he'd felt at the
thought. Disgrace, shame, filth. None of that, now.
Not now, not right now.
one else, like this. No one else
" Dan did
not finish the sentence, kissing the back of Vadim's
been right. Not Dona
Matt, not Jean. Vadim shook
his head, banished the thought, wanted more of that,
deeper, harder, wanted to feel thrusts and Dan's length
sliding inside and out and accept him as deep as he
could, with as much force as he could. Dan's fingers
stretching him and teasing, slicking him up, a slight
burn, but no discomfort. Last man touching him had been
the doc, and he didn't count. Just clinical. "Same
clean." Healthy. Functional.
didn't mean that." Dan's voice barely a murmur,
as his lips curved into a smile in the back of Vadim's
neck. Fingers at last replaced with the tip of his cock.
He didn't know where in heaven and hell he took this
restraint from, just that it was of utmost importance
he didn't rush anything. Had to draw out, relish and
engrave in his mind forever each and every endless second.
not like this." And
he pushed forward, stretching, demanding, moving until
he felt yielding and acceptance - agonisingly slow.
lips opened wider, a choked sound came out, feeling
this, so damned good, just so good, his body responding
on its own with his mind still outside like a guest
that was not allowed in. Lost the thread of conversation,
just felt the slick heat and the stretching and Dan
moving inside him, hand reaching behind him, trying
to pull Dan closer and deeper, but most of all touch
and feel him. Dan. Dan like in the cave, Dan like in
those days when there had been nothing to fear and nothing
to regret. Dan was everything that mattered. Struggled
hard to think, but couldn't, just felt the warmth and
the skin and Dan's strength and control. "I'll
he murmured, "but
I don't care
never need to beg with me. Never." Dan found it
hard to talk, consumed by the sensations. All feeling
concentrated in his cock, flaring from the centre throughout
his body and mind. Synapses firing lust across his brain
until he was hardly able to think at all. Nothing but
Vadim's body, Vadim's heat, Vadim's scent. Eleven years
reduced to a blur of memories and emotions. Nothing
else mattered but the here and now. "Whatever you
" words tumbling, while his body took
over. The good hand roaming across muscles and skin,
until they found Vadim's cock, curling around it. Could
feel every vein beneath his calloused palm. "Whatever
wherever ... I'd do it for you
" His body was rocking into the
other's. Smoothly and steadily, their bodies combined,
and his stroking in sync with the same perfection.
begging. He didn't need to beg. No humiliation, no submission,
no shame, no disgrace, not even when Vadim could think
clearly again, not in his memory, not when they'd both
be mercenaries again. Vadim closed his eyes, one hand
rested on Dan's wrist, moved with it as Dan brought
him further, stroked him, no begging, just equals as
they'd always been, sometimes at each other's mercy,
but never less than themselves. "I
Vadim breathed, flexing again as the lust built up further,
but he took over Dan's rhythm, trusting him so completely
that he wouldn't beg, knowing Dan didn't want that and
would just listen to it anyway. Knowing he didn't truly
beg, not on his knees, not for his life, not
for his pride, but whatever he'd say would only truly
be 'I love you more than I can say, than I can even
think and what you give me takes my breath away, but
breathing is overrated when I can kiss you', and he
suddenly smiled, while he could hear his own groans,
sensuous, and, he thought, damned sexy, as they had
to be. Dan sexy as he was, doing sexy things, himself,
in prime shape, and they were a feast for the gods,
and no shame whatsoever. "I love you", Vadim
muttered, barely coherent.
was smiling, at nothing and no one and both of them.
At words and feelings, and the sheer utter perfection
of everything. Shifting his body, the angle of his hips
changed, and his entrance became deeper while the speed
increased slightly. Still as intense, and just as perfect.
" loving you, wanting
you, even when I was about to kill you and hated your
guts, your very sight. Picking up speed and strength
once more, his thrusts still as smooth and controlled,
but deeper and harder. "And always will."
Breathlessly murmured, Dan's eyes closed, starting to
fuck in earnest, with all his strength, yet the strength
remained controlled by their position and by everything
he felt. No wild, insane coupling of greed like the
night before, but years worth of emotions expressed
in lust, moving further towards orgasm.
wanted nothing more than change position, himself pressed
into the mattress, or on his hands and knees, this slow,
drawn-out love making wrecking him from the inside and
outside, stripping everything away. His pretences, the
bitterness, the darkness, and for a while even the interrogator's
voice. Just emotion and feeling, and he glanced over
his shoulder, too close to see anything, but felt Dan's
hot breath against his ear and neck, and every thrust
that went right through him, up to his chest and his
throat while tension built up. At least that was something
that still worked, and something he remembered and that
had been nothing but good, and Dan finally there where
he wanted him, where he remembered him, and where he
fucking needed him. Relief so powerful it hurt as his
body tensed, close to orgasm, but never able to get
there on its own, always needed Dan's help to get him
there, his groans sounding desperate now.
so damn close, Dan could feel nothing but the pressure
building, almost unbearable in his cock and balls. He
shifted once more, angle steeper, and he sped up, increasing
strength. His hand remained in the same rhythm, same
sync with is body's thrusts. "Aye
whispered, without thinking nor seeing, "I'll take
care of you." His hand gripping tighter, harsher,
his strokes as demanding as his thrust, now.
Overwhelming gratitude as Dan took him over the edge,
and Vadim's fingers dug into Dan's hip as he felt himself
fall, pressing back, tensing as he just let go, coming
with breathless groans, into and against Dan's hand,
against his body. Absurdly surprised at the depth of
emotion, the intensity, the clarity as if the darkness
didn't exist, as if everything was still clear and simple,
and for a long moment it was, just him and Dan.
followed almost immediately, his whole being had just
waited for that moment when he could finally let go.
Felt his cock clench, deeply embedded in the powerful
body that was all his, and his alone. That very moment,
there was no past - no future, just present. He felt
himself drained of more than just total ecstasy, his
entire being crushed and elevated at the same time.
Felt emptied of every memory and emotion, like an infected
wound: drained of everything that had turned bad. Finding
himself with eyes scrunched shut and his arm wrapped
and holding tightly onto Vadim. Emptied so much, there
was nothing left but a shell, like it had been before,
the day of Vadim's execution. But this time it was not
pain that filled the empty shell, but feelings, flooding
back, bringing knowledge and realisation. Here, and
now, and his once more. Vadim. Forever and always.
Dan cried, helplessly, while his good hand clawed at
the other's body, his body pressed so close, as if he
was trying to crawl inside.
Dan shudder and the tension that didn't leave him, Vadim
glanced over his shoulder, feeling and hearing the odd
pattern of breathing, and what seemed like despair to
him, the sounds wretched. Suddenly realized just how
much he'd fucked up Dan, and felt a wave of tenderness
come up that took his breath. Moving, separating only
to turn around and grab hold of the man, feeling him
tight and close and helplessly crying. Small sounds
for such a powerful man, and Vadim swallowed hard, pressing
the other man to him, knowing nothing really could stop
that and all he could and wanted to do was hold Dan
through this, help him deal with the pain. Fingers running
over his skin, feeling tears himself, an echo and a
shadow of Dan's. Feeling so fucking sorry for having
got Dan this far and breaking him up so badly. "Shit,
I'm sorry. I'm so very
very sorry", he murmured
into Dan's ear.
shook his head, repeatedly, trying to say 'no, not your
damn fault', but he couldn't get a sound out, let alone
a coherent word. Couldn't stop those motherfucking tears
either, completely helpless and resigned to whatever
they were doing to him. 'They': tears, emotions, and
two and a half years of shit, but he had no idea why
he just couldn't stop. Just couldn't. No chance, and
when he finally gave in, the tension flew out as his
body capitulated to tears and old, so very old pain.
Sobbing like a broken child, while memories were fading.
Death, fear, blackmail, hopelessness and hope. They
became nothing but past.
tears were silent, just running from his eyes into Dan's
wild hair. Hardly painful, they came, and went, bringing
an odd sense of relief and cleansing, but most of all
regret as he held Dan, stroking his back and shoulders,
thought they'd rushed it, should have been more careful,
and at the same time felt like things could be good
again. Not just sex, not just friends, but something
similar to what they had been, plus comrades. Finally
on the same side, their own side, with nothing else
to fall back onto.
took a long time before Dan calmed, and he never realised
he had fallen asleep in the other's arms. Utterly exhausted.
Vadim rolled onto his back, shifted Dan to lie on his
shoulder, could still feel him inside and listened to
the rustle of palm leaves, eyes half closed. It could
be good again. All they had to do was stick together,
whatever came - Jean, Yank, whatever. They were far
away, and they weren't important, not when Dan had cried
like that, and Vadim felt embarrassed and proud and
full of regret - too many shifting emotions to examine
will see that some people might react strange to things
you do or say, Mr Krasnorada. Guilt will only deepen
that gap. They are entitled to their responses, some
of which might seem strange to you. It won't be your
fault. Don't take them personally - trauma quite significantly
shifts our perception of self.
try", he murmured, looked to the side at Dan's
eyebrows, smooth forehead, looking relaxed and peaceful,
and looked down to Dan's scarred hand, partially in
plaster. It would be good. It would be a battle fighting
it out, but they'd win this. They'd leave the past behind
and use what they'd left. All of it.
Dan woke about an hour later he stretched his muscles
and moved his arms and legs long before his mind was
engaging. Pure luxury of not having to be awake from
one second to the next. Even though he was still half
asleep, his mind knew that no danger was near, and his
body revelled in slowly returning to the surface. He
felt warmth - human warmth. Skin, and arms, a body that
was hard and smooth and simply perfect. Held, resting,
and lips close to skin, as he breathed in the other's
scent. Dan's lips curved into a smile while his eyes
were still closed. Moving his head a fraction, his wild
hair brushed across Vadim's chest. "Mmmm
Dan almost purred, completely at peace and more relaxed
than he could remember. Except for his eyes, they felt
somewhat swollen, but it was of no importance. What
had been, had been, and he felt no shame for the display
of emotions. He had merely functioned, and functioned
well, until now, and from now on he could live again.
chance for breakfast? Am famished."
twisted a bit, rolling onto his side to kiss Dan's forehead
- that was the only bit of his face that he could reach
without moving too much. "The food is still there",
he murmured and smiled, running a lazy hand through
Dan's hair. Soft. The length made that hair too soft
to keep his hands away. "I might dredge up enough
get up and feed you", he murmured.
"Depends on the incentive."
Dan rolled over onto his back, able to twist his head
up,peering at the other. "And that would be? Let
grinned. "Not just yet, but
starved after steaming alone in his tin hut. Remembered
Dan's skills too well, going savage or skilled or teasing,
slow, harsh, enthusiastic.
rubbed his eyes, still swollen. "The coffee's cold,
though, aye?" Adding, while pulling himself upwards
to half-sit. "I have no idea when I conked out
nor for how long." It didn't matter, and he shrugged
while searching one-handed for his packet of fags.
reached and found Dan's shorts, pulling them closer
so Dan could get to them. "We have time. I think
a bit more than an hour." He rubbed his
face and yawned, stretching. "Plenty of time, though.
My next treatment is at twelve, that gives me time for
Finding his fags, Dan fished one out and lit it, all
one handed before picking the shorts up with his toes
and with a deft flick catching his foot in it. He grinned
while inhaling the nicotine deeply. "What's that
for?" Smoke curling out of his nostrils and mouth.
Massage, exfoliation, and epilation
smiled. "Mostly treating the scars, though, and
the girl yesterday said that some parts of my spine
are locked and that I should go for the full treatment
and bring time." He shrugged. "Guess they
know their thing better than I do."
Sounds good, you think I should do the same?" Dan
looked up while the shorts kept slowly sliding down
his lifted leg.
If nothing else, it feels really good."
book me in for the whole hog as well. Oh, and are we
ordering more tea and coffee?"
a moment. " Vadim nodded, rolled over again to
reach for the phone, ordering another set of tea and
coffee to their bungalow. Turning back towards Dan.
"Should be here in five. I better get dressed -
at least shorts."
right, that's what they were for." Grinning, Dan
kept the burning cigarette between his lips while reaching
for the shorts. Struggling one handed, he ended up laughing,
while lying on his back like a stranded beetle, the
twisted shorts somewhere halfway down his legs.
grinned and bent down to take hold of the shorts and
pull them up. "Lift yer arse, soldier boy",
he mimicked one of the PT instructors, and pulled them
up for Dan. Even zipped him up and closed the button,
leaning down to kiss the mess of scars peeking out over
the cloth. "Can't wait to peel you out of those
again", he said lowly and flashed another grin,
getting one in return. Then found his own shorts and
slipped them on as well, managing to be partially dressed
at least and not entangled with Dan when the Thai waiter
appeared and served the tea and coffee pots. The young
man didn't move a muscle in his pretty face, even though
the situation was absurdly clear, and Vadim marvelled
at the way everything seemed normal here.
Dan remarked when the guy was gone, "they are rather
stoic, aye?" Remembering the 'ladyboy' bar, and
the fact he'd been told there was nothing one couldn't
get for money in this country. Even things that made
his stomach turn. "Stoic, or polite, or plain and
simply incredibly tolerant."
shrugged. "I like them for that. Seems to create
reached for his clothed crotch, scratching vigorously,
before he swung his long legs over the edge of the bed.
"You do realise we haven't even showered yet, aye?
Feel a bit of a sticky mess and bet you're not any better,
but food first
" a thought suddenly occurred
to him as he stood. His eyes lighting up. "A bath!
We've never had a bath together and I've got addicted
to bubble baths. Back in the embassy."
gave a laugh. "Sounds good. Jacuzzi? There was
the hamam in Kabul, but that was different." He
watched as Dan padded over to the trolley that held
the breakfast and now the fresh tea and coffee, pulling
it towards the bed.
in bed, Monsieur?" Moving into an exaggeratedly
deep bow, Dan lifted the first of the covers off the
food. "Would you like me to feed you, Monsieur?"
He grinned before letting himself fall back onto the
smiled and reached out to touch Dan's side again, feeling
mellow and tender and like he couldn't touch and hold
him enough. "Yes, why not? If you want to?"
if you do the pouring of tea and coffee. I don't trust
my hand right now, too much sex, you know." Dan
waggled his brows, grinning.
smiled. "Then let that hand recover some."
He leaned in to kiss, a short, gentle touch, then began
to sort the cups and prepare tea and coffee. Black coffee
with sugar for Dan, more sugar than seemed right, while
he stuck to black coffee. Too many tea jokes, too much
history. He offered Dan the cup, and sat down on the
bed, pulling one leg up.
the hot coffee, Dan let the over-sweetened concoction
roll slowly over his tongue, savouring every mouthful.
"Since when do you prefer coffee?" Pointing
at Vadim's cup before putting his own down, picking
out bits of different breads, toppings and fruit to
place on a plate.
glanced up. "Too Russian; I'm trying to break the
habit." Carefully dropping the definite article
into the sentence. Just keeping away from anything that
reminded him of the state that had fucked him up, and
its people, that had allowed it to happen.
Dan looked up from what he was doing, studying Vadim
for a moment. He had to learn to decipher the other
anew. Signs and signifiers, unknown and waiting for
him to make sense of. "You could drink your tea
with milk," smiling, "that's a very British
way to take tea. Or you could have Earl Grey. You can't
get anymore English than that." Moving the plate
onto the bed and scooting closer to Vadim.
shook his head. "Not sure I'm ready for that habit."
British passport, and as British as blinis, and vodka,
and Siberia. Not very. The only place where he fit in
was gone, and the place that saw some worth in him was
so very alien to him, and he shared that sentiment.
"Coffee is fine. Smells much better than it tastes,
but the smell is very good."
in that case, I let you test out if the food smells
better than it tastes. And, of course, if you can figure
out what it is." Dan grinned, gently poking Vadim's
chest with a finger. "Close your eyes and open
smiled. "Don't make me guess." Felt oddly
embarrassed about it, and relished the weird tenderness
- a strange and new situation. He opened his lips to
invite the bite of food.
chose some lightly toasted white bread with butter,
a smidgen of cream cheese and freshly smoked fish on
top, holding it to Vadim's lips. "It's pretty straightforward."
He grinned, couldn't help but laugh. "Nothing 'straight'
here, eh?" Murmured, while preparing a bite for
no. Try as I might, I can't come up with anything
straight, not after
" you fucked me like
that. He let the words trail off, thought Dan probably
could hear the complete sentence. The bite was moved
between his lips, as if to tease, bread and faintly
salty slick fish, something like cream came out at the
sides as he closed his mouth.
Don't tell me you don't know what that is."
was chewing, too, while watching the other's face. Every
movement of those jaws, the dark blond lashes fanning
over high, Slavic cheekbones. The closed eyelids, fluttering,
as if Vadim was forcing himself to keep them closed.
Watching the throat as it swallowed, the strong tendons
and muscles, and the scar
his scar, right
there in the hollow. All Dan wanted was to forget about
the food despite his stomach's rumbling, and to dive
into Vadim instead. "You're so fucking sexy."
Reverent, his voice was barely more than a rumble.
eyes opened, licking his lips to make sure he had the
whole thing. "Well, tastes a bit like you. A bit
salty, and like more. A lot like more." He ran
his finger across Dan's lips, pretending he was wiping
crumbs off, but of course he wasn't, merely wanting
to touch, so he knew that he was allowed to touch again,
that it was his right again, that he had been accepted
again and would be, in future. In camp. He wouldn't
lie there with his heart and mind torn open, knowing
Dan was with somebody else
or even preferred
being alone to being with him.
a lot more where that came from." Dan smiled against
the finger on his lips. "Both food and me."
Catching the tip of the finger to suck it into his mouth.
His dark eye alight and smiling all the time.
stared at Dan's lips and his finger, and suction, heat
and wetness made his guts tighten in a good way. Just
barely breathing. Dan playful. Dan sexy. Dan teasing.
Mad Dog Dan. "I
Knew he made no sense, but didn't care.
" Dan reluctantly let go of the finger. His
voice husky, it seemed that anything took his mind from
no-matter-what right to sex. Or had it ever been any
different? With Vadim? "Considering I'm forty-two
and not a spring chicken with endless orgasms anymore
," he swallowed, his body trying to contradict
his own words, "and fucking hungry
." But he made no attempt to
actually get to the food, despite the loud rumbling
of his stomach.
gave a laugh. "Chicken no, cock yes." Loved
the ambiguity of the word, while Dan chuckled at the
pun and Vadim wondered who had ever decided to call
the male part the same as a male chicken, but would
ask about that later. He reached up to bring a tray
of food closer, not too bothered to place it on the
plates first, instead took it with his fingers and offered
Dan some rolled-up cold cuts, and pieces of fish, and
fruit, all in a mix that he thought worked well in succession
while he got fed by Dan in return. "You're different
from Kabul, too, you know that?"
Chewing, Dan tilted his head, looking up in surprise.
"What do you mean? I thought I was back to what
I was like those months before ... ah
Trailing off, "you know." Deciding to quickly
go for another mouthful of food instead of talking.
The balance act on rope or thin ice was not over yet.
to put into words
seems you've grown into the
boots you were wearing then. No doubts. You're not much
of a doubter anyway, but now you look like you never
were. All balls."
his latest mouthful, Dan looked nothing short of utterly
confused. "I don't get what you mean." Then
shrugged, "I just got older." Offering a smile.
both did." But it looks good on you. You wear it
with a cool and confidence that makes my heart thump
in my throat. How can I not want you like that? How
could I not feel anything?
just smiled brighter, offering another mouthful of food
to Vadim's lips. "I reckon we have a fair few more
years in front of us and that after all this shit we
deserve each of them." Leaning down to take some
more fish and fruit from the other's hand, "unless
one of us, or both, get KIA, we'll just keep on living.
Together. But I don't think we will. Got it in me waters,
you know." Tapping the side of his nose.
took the bite, chewing, and pushing away the thought
of death. Working on different teams was really the
only thing they could do to keep the job running, because
he knew with absolute certainty that Dan would always
choose him, no question, and the CO knew that too, and
thus kept them both from making that decision, ever.
And this meant it would be one of them that got KIA,
and the other would go on. They'd managed once before
- if it ever happened, it couldn't be worse than the
last two years. "We are too good to let that happen.
And, all told, we are fairly lucky, too."
damn lucky in a sea of shit." Dan laughed, washing
the food down with the rest of his coffee, before he
turned more serious. "No, you are right, we have
been damn lucky, all considered. It's a miracle we are
both alive and that's worth for something, isn't it?"
Picking up a piece of honey smoked fish, he looked at
it for a while, pondering, before he grinned. "By
all what's right I really shouldn't be alive anymore.
Just look at this ragtag bag of scars." Stuffing
the fish between his lips, he lifted both his arms as
if he crucified, offering himself for inspection.
you attract pain", murmured Vadim and bent down
to kiss Dan's abs, back up to his pecs, to his shoulder,
the scar. "Pain, and more pain
wanted to kneel and give Dan a blowjob, just compare
tastes and sensations.
you're not pain." Not anymore, "and
" Dan's breath hitched, "that
you're pretty much attracted to me."
think anything else, sorry." Vadim looked
up and smiled. "Do you
want me to
were nothing but his bitch, and you made yourself that
give head?" Seemed the best term to what it was,
less crude, maybe. Vadim didn't know why it jarred him,
only of course it was on his knees and part of him wanted
to be there, and another part shied away.
Again, that confusion, as Dan felt a strange twitch
inside. "Why do you ask?" Since when, and
how, and why, and
the thin ice felt like breaking
want to distract you from breakfast, but it's
Difficult to not end up in bed all the time, pretending
things were normal and they'd do things slower, not
rushing, but Vadim was head over heels and wanted to
touch and keep and confirm, over and over, that the
old vows and promises were valid again. Still held true.
" Dan started to smile, felt himself slipping
across the ice instead of breaking through. "I
just wondered, because you asked, and you didn't use
I sometimes did when the mood struck me, or when there
was a knife, or pressure, or hands around my throat.
Vadim watched Dan lean towards the plates, hastily stuffing
himself with a few mouthfuls, chewing while grinning.
can do with me whatever you like." Swallowing quickly
before managing to pour himself another cup of coffee
without spilling too much and ladling the sugar in,
as Vadim went down onto his knees between Dan's legs.
"Don't ask, just do, and if I don't like it,"
Dan grinned, then washed down the food with the whole
cup, quipping his lips, "I'll just punch you."
He laughed and winked, "gently, that is."
wonder how much is gentle
" retorted Vadim,
and then thought he did wonder how much was gentle
these days. They'd gone from brutal to savage to passionate,
and he wasn't quite sure where they'd end up. "
or how gentle I want you to be." Slipped
out, not on purpose, surely not, not with the trauma
and the doctor telling him to be extra special careful
in his interactions with people, even those he knew,
as he could take nothing for granted.
give me ideas." Dan grinned, reaching to place
his hand on Vadim's shoulder. Just resting and feeling
the heat of the skin beneath his palm. "Or, at
least, give me some time to reacquaint myself with you,
the 'vanilla' way. Then we'll see from there."
He chuckled while leaning forward, resting his lips
on the top of the other's head.
Vadim's hands rested on Dan's thighs, and he opened
them. Running his hands towards Dan's knees, knew the
scar and its place, remembered it from long ago. A different
man, a different Dan.
something I heard the guys talk about." Dan lifted
his head, watching the progress of the other's hands.
Whenever he was touched like this, no matter by whom,
he wondered every time what the hell anyone saw in him:
a worn-out battle-scarred old war horse with no other
talents than waging war. "They were boasting about
their birds, back home, and how some of them took it
up the arse and wanted it rough, while others were into
cuddling and missionary-style sex, and the guys called
and missionary style. Vanilla. Okay. Strange. Vadim
suddenly smiled. "But I take it up the arse. So
vanilla between men is different?"
snorted, throwing his head back, hair whipping around
his face as he laughed with abandon. "Guess us
blokes haven't got much option, aye?" Vadim shook
his head, but he was grinning. Dan's laughter finally
quietened down to a chuckle. "Now, what about a
bath and, or, your proposition?"
bath is always good ..." And you. The way your
skin tastes when it's wet. "And, not or."
alright, then, because I guess we both could do with
a bath, even though I'd lick every crevice of yours,
would bite every inch of skin, and suck every part of
your body - washed or not."
shook his head. "Bath. I prefer you clean. Had
too much Afghan dust between my teeth to be into not-clean."
nodded, holding his hand out to Vadim to pull him up,
despite the prospect of a blow-job. "Let's get
the bubbles started, and I'll let you play 'u-boat and
torpedo missiles'." Grinning like a kid, his dark
eyes flashing with delight and his whole face relaxed.
They had time, for the first time ever. Truly time.
They'd deal with the past later.
the bathroom, which was as big and as airy as the whole
bungalow, Dan sat down on a cushioned stool, eyes fixed
on Vadim. "Guess it's your task to run the bath
water." He grinned broadly, while waving his plastered
hand around. "Big bubbles, if you would."
sat down near the tub and stretched to reach the levers,
sealing the tub with a twist of that, and starting the
water with a twist of the other. Running the water over
his hand, choosing a good temperature, then reached
into a little woven basket at the side to add bath oil
- it said something about Tahitian monoi oil on the
little bottle - and turned to face Dan. Looking at him
in wonder, and a relaxed happiness that felt alien but
too damn good to disturb.
why are you staring at me?" Eyes sparkling with
mirth, Dan pointed impatiently at the bottle Vadim was
holding. "You think bubble baths aren't manly?"
pulled off the cap, and peeled off the foil seal. "You
could wear a dress and like chocolate and you'd still
be manly." He glanced up, keeping his face impassive.
do like chocolate, as you damn well know, Mr
Peanut Butter Energy bar, and I am Scottish,
and thus prone to one day proudly wear my national attire:
the kilt." Dan tried to look stern and menacing,
but could not hide the grin all too well. "And
if you ever call a kilt a 'skirt' or a 'dress', I am
going to fucking strangle you."
poured the oil into the bath, watching it form a glistening
film on the rapidly rising water. A nice, clean scent
rose with the steam. "If you do it tenderly
A quick glance to Dan.
that means not the way you used to do it to me,
aye?" The memory brought heat to his face, and
Dan's lips parted for a moment, transfixed on the way
muscles shifted over tendons and bones in Vadim's body.
His breath hitched. "But is there
way to strangle?"
The teasing - flirting, Vadim heard Jean say - went
right inside his body again. Vanilla. He had the vague
idea that strangling wasn't vanilla. He took pains to
put the cap back on, fitting the little bottle back
into the woven basket. "Well, dropping the garrotte
hands would be ah ... a start."
a neck cloth count as a garrotte, though?" Dan's
head tilted, leaning closer. "You used to use one."
did." Breathing grew a little harder. "I
liked", breath, "that power." The power
to let you breathe or gasp for air. The power to kill
you. Or let you live. The feeling of controlling your
body. And at the same time, that cloth was part of the
uniform, had been used to stem blood flow, or support
a fucked arm around the neck, or any of the one hundred
uses that a piece of cloth could have during a war.
Strangle his lover.
breath caught once more in his throat. "And I
goddammit, I liked it." Felt as if his voice had
suddenly turned rusty for no reason. "Was the only
way I could let you. You know." Didn't know why
words got stuck, nor where hesitation came from. Had
to physically jerk himself upright, to finish. "Only
way I could let you fuck me." Past, or still present?
He wasn't so sure anymore.
only way I could let you fuck me. Vadim nodded,
inhaling deeply, felt regret at that, the thing he'd
done that made Dan resist him at every turn, certainly
his body, a deep terror he had started himself, and
that would always linger like a nightmare, like the
taste of rotting meat. Vanya had paid with his life,
and he, too, in a way, if less literally. He stared
into the water, and thought again of Dr Williams who'd
warned him to be careful, question every reaction that
was too dark, too violent, too bitter. Might all be
perfectly harmless. Still, it remained rape, a crime,
and what the fuck had made him do that? What was that
thing nesting inside his heart and that made him force
and violate and fucking revel in it?
best guess is, Vadim Petrovich, that you are punishing
yourself for your debased urges.
Dan leaned forward once more, reaching out to touch
the other's thigh, whose reaction once more felt alien.
"It's okay, Russkie. It's a long time ago, doesn't
matter anymore." When Vadim looked up, Dan smiled,
did his best to, at least. Steered his own thoughts
away from lust; the deep, dark coiling lust that was
fed by blood, pain and aggression. "It's okay."
All wrong, for a moment, and then Vadim felt the touch
and thought of the roof in the merc camp and what that
touch meant. Covered Dan's hand with his and pressed
it, glad for the touch. "Do you
like punishing me for that?" Because if Dan didn't,
why should he? Or what else had he done that deserved
punishment? Or had Konstantinov created that doubt?
you think I have already done that? Eleven years ago."
Dan kept his hand in Vadim's and stood up. Reaching
to trace with the fingers of his left hand across the
scarred back. He lowered his head until he was eye to
eye. "You bear the scars of my revenge." His
voice had softened, "and I wear mine. We're quits.
It's done and over, a long time ago."
leaned forward, cheek against Dan's scarred stomach,
just touching it with half his lips, half his mouth,
while Dan continued to caress the broad back. The warmth
of Dan's body, the trail of dark hair - what was left
after the scarring. "I sometimes don't trust my
mind." That was it in a nutshell. "I'm thinking,
and then I'm thinking that's wrong. And then I think
that's wrong." Vadim inhaled. "He screwed
me up", he murmured.
froze for a heartbeat, before the slow meandering of
his fingertips continued. "Who is 'he'?"
other man who tortured me, thought Vadim, and dug his
forehead deeper into Dan's body. He remembered kneeling
at the man's feet, remembered being patted like a dog.
He jerked up, needed to see, see it was Dan, and hated
himself for that same instinct. "Not
He tried a smile but nearly lost it, his face twitching.
"The man who
made me sign the confession.
He screwed me up. Like he said he would. He said so
from the start." He wanted to stop the words and
wasn't sure he could.
Dan moistened his suddenly dry lips. The running water
forgotten, the bathroom was filling with steam. The
heat oddly soothing. Dan lowered down, despite stiffness
and lingering bruises. Getting onto his knees to be
close. Figured, instinctively, that nothing else would
an effort, Vadim met Dan's gaze, felt tense and scared
and knew at the same time he was perfectly safe. Knew
he was going through something, but this time, Dan was
right there with him. He just didn't know whether that
made it easier or not, dealing with it. The dread, yes,
the shame, no.
man, who made you sign the confession. Who
broke you, "said he would. That was that man's
Konstantinov. That's his name. What the judge called
him." Speaking the name felt surreal. He hadn't
even told Dr Williams the man's name.
was a professional, then." Dan's voice lowered
even more. The rare, rumbling depths, reserved only
for a few occasions. "A professional, like us,
just that he wasn't trained to destroy bodies. Was trained
to destroy minds." Tilting his head to look at
" My brain knows, but nothing else
Vadim, if such a man was out to destroy you, goddammit,
he had to succeed. With anyone. It's a testament
to your strength that you signed so late." The
hand in Vadim's back had stilled, but contact remained.
"But that doesn't make any of it any better, aye?"
He knew me. He knew what I was thinking, feeling, have
ever felt. Digging around in my past, my crimes,
my weaknesses, the people I was ever close to."
did he also dig around in the good things? The love,
the caring, the fact you would have torn yourself apart
for your family - and that you almost did?"
gave a wry smile. "He was less interested in that
he made it all sound like it didn't matter."
Insinuated I'd raped my own son. Sasha's son. Our. Whatever.
Nikolai. How was he? Better now? Katya would protect
her kids with her life. "Sometimes it just feels
like he peeled the flesh from my bones. He skinned my
soul. And I don't even believe in a soul."
did I." Dan murmured, "until I met you."
Studying the other with dark eyes, "don't you want
to seek help to sort things out?"
shook his head. "Dr Williams put me back together.
He said it might decrease in intensity, but most only
learn how to live with it. He said I'm coping well,
nodded slowly. Had to take Vadim's words for what they
were, but a slither of doubt lodged itself even firmer
in his mind. "I wish I could understand all this.
I did read those articles on trauma that Maggie gave
me, but I don't think I understood the stuff. I'm
I'm not a brainy man, but shit, I'm here. Whatever happens.
I gave you my word by accepting the bullet, and I'm
not going to break it. Ever."
pulled Dan into a tight, powerful bear hug, hearing
the water gargle into the sieve that prevented spill-over.
"You wouldn't. Just
don't pity me, okay?"
He felt ridiculous asking that, and even worse for how
it sounded in his throat. "Act like I was alright."
should punch you for asking that." Dan murmured,
"or did I ever ask you not to fucking pity me for
that rag tag body of mine?" Casting a glance at
the dangerously high water level, he couldn't get himself
to give a damn. "Mmmm
," his low voice
rumbled, "seemed we are making a perfect pair.
My body's fucked and your mind's knackered. Together
we should be unbeatable."
breathed laughter, and was so grateful for Dan just
taking it in stride, like he'd taken everything in stride.
Courageous Dan. Mad Dog Dan. Dan McFadyen, SAS, merc,
survivor. He felt oddly proud for having Dan, and proud
of Dan, and thought, yes, they could tackle that shit
together. Not the worst they'd gone through. He slowly
relaxed, willed himself to relax; it was less difficult
now. "Let's keep the thought with the strangling,
not just yet."
Dan grinned, his normal self returning: irreverent and
easy-going. "I'll keep the thought, beside all
the others. I have a whole damn bucketful of thoughts."
Glancing once more to the side, he heaved a deep sigh
before straightening up. "And if we don't do anything
about it, we'll be drowning soon."
grinned. "I can swim. To Olympic standard. Maybe
not to compete, but this small thing will not drown
me." He reached over to pull the lever that stopped
the water, feeling strangely better, like he'd bandaged
a wound. It hurt like fuck and was still bleeding, but
there was always something reassuring about being patched
a long bath in the overflowing tub, talking about nothing
darker than SAS Selection and their respective youths
in their home towns. Vadim rubbed Dan dry once more,
who was chuckling at the care and relishing the touch.
They had just about time for lunch and Dan opted for
a snack at the buffet, keen to call Dr Williams, while
Vadim booked him into the same beauty treatment. A treatment
Dan had no idea about, except that it was about dealing
Dan returned, after a phone call that had lasted three
quarters of an hour, he was quieter than usual, and
somewhat absentminded. Smiling at Vadim, he shrugged
when asked how it had gone, needing time to digest the
information. He wasn't stupid, not even slow, but by
no means an intellectual. Dan's intelligence was practical,
coupled with sheer bravado to survive - and an astonishing
depth of emotion. And he wasn't going to forget a single
thing he'd been told.
shaded huts right at the beach, a tiny woman handled
Vadim's body with a mix of skill and effectiveness that
awed him, and he relaxed into her stretches, just going
with what she did, as every motion and every strange
position seemed to loosen him up more, and he lost track
of time. There was no muscle in his body that she didn't
somehow work with, she even pulled his toes and ears,
and Vadim could just feel parts of his body he'd never
been conscious before. Felt warm and good and taken
care of, no urgency in anything, he learnt to trust
her fingers, and elbows, and feet - something he hadn't
expected. Maybe because of Dan, maybe because of the
sex and the worry that had left him. He could feel the
vertebrae shift and slide into position, his 'locked'
back relaxed, and he closed his eyes, just allowing
her to handle him.
lay right next to Vadim, separated only by a paper thin
partition. The combination of gentle breeze, soft rustling
of palm leaves, the scent of oil the woman was using,
and her skilled hands that carefully worked on his bruised
and abused body, had sent him off into such a peaceful
state, he had fallen asleep. It was pure bliss, lying
prone and snoozing, while she worked on his back and
legs. Dan smiled to himself in his slumbering state,
as he felt something warm glide over his skin, covering
his thighs and arse, and he subconsciously parted his
legs a little further, just to feel the luxurious warmth
that spread all over him. Face cushioned on his arm,
he let out a soft sigh, completely at peace with himself
and the world.
... a sudden, almighty pain ripped all the way up from
his knee, along the thigh and across his buttock. Dan
jerked up, pulling the bruises, and screamed blue murder.
that, Vadim reacted without thinking. Age-old reflexes
that had been honed by words like "incoming!",
or screams, or just a comrade going down with a headshot.
He rolled off the table and went for cover before he
even realized anything, putting the fear of god into
the little Thai girl who jumped back, a shocked expression
on her face, hands raised and speaking something, but
he didn't know one word of Thai. Half kneeling, half
crouching, Vadim peered past the massage table. "Dan?"
shit, shit, fucking goddamned, bloody shit!" Dan
was cursing, curled up on the table. Holding simultaneously
his bruised side, his hand, and arm and leg and arse,
and just about everything else. His own Thai girl had
pressed herself into a corner, looking absolutely terrified,
with two long white linen strips in her hands, coated
with sticky wax.
the fuck was that for? Why the hell is she skinning
glanced around, then saw that his own Thai girl had
been preparing the same stuff for him, and he couldn't
help but laugh. "Hot wax. It's harmless."
wax?" Dan managed to sit on the table, peering
over the partition to try find Vadim, who had decided
that there was no RPG incoming and that it was safe
to stand and walk over to Dan, who was staring at his
naked body far too blatantly.
why is she doing that? It hurts like fuck." Dan
frowned, but when he realised that the girl looked petrified,
he raised his hands, trying to placate, apologising
time and time again while nodding. Trying to explain
without being able to talk the language that he was
sorry and it wasn't her fault. Even though he still
didn't have a clue why the hell she'd done that. "Did
you book me into a torture chamber, or what?"
hair removal." Vadim tried to control the laughter,
but it was just too funny, Dan sitting there in all
his injured pride, flabbergasted that this could and
actually did hurt. "You wanted the whole hog. My
wax is just being heated."
I didn't know what 'the whole hog' meant! I thought
it was massage and stuff." Eyes narrowed, Dan pointed
accusingly at Vadim. "You did that deliberately,
didn't you? You bastard."
laughed, but raised his hands. "No, Sir, I didn't.
I booked the same treatment twice. I didn't think it
would have that effect." Trying again for
the straight face approach, but it was funny. Dan's
wool clinging to the waxing strips, and the girl still
out of reach and not getting what the problem was. "It'll
be better once you get used to it. I guess you were
is no way I am going to get used to this." Dan
huffed, shaking his head for emphasis. "That's
it. Never again. I'm dark skinned and dark haired, and
most of all, I'm a bloke. Blokes have hair, especially
dark haired ones."
she started." Vadim waved for Dan to get up, and
walked around him, seeing the patch of reddening, hairless
skin the Thai girl had cleared. "Well. It's a bit
irregular, but I'm sure the other mercs in camp won't
mind the patchy look."
the fuck do you mean?" Dan's brows raised as far
as they could go, trying to twist backwards to see what
Vadim was referring to. Didn't manage, though, his ribs
a patch of hair missing already. If you leave it like
well. It's not the best look in the world."
Vadim reached for a mirror and held it down beside Dan's
tortured backside. "See what I mean?"
fuck." Dan breathed out in heartfelt misery,
as he saw the extent of damage. "I look like a
about right", said Vadim, but smiled.
Dan turned back to Vadim. Would have crossed his arms
before his chest, if it hadn't been awkward with the
wrist in plaster. "Alright. I got it. I have to
get through with it. Just one thing, she's not going
to go anywhere close to my cock and I shave my nuts
anyway. Pubes are out. Is that clear?" He raised
his brows again.
grinned. "Explain that to her. I'm not giving you
the treatment." He shook his head, thinking how
Dan could even make such a situation into something
it hadn't meant to be. "Hope you don't mind if
they get rid of mine, though", he said, winking,
and turned to lie down on his side of the partition.
It was hard to relax as silent laughter kept coming
back. Oh Dan.
was about to huff an answer, but shut up and pressed
his lips together instead. Okay, he'd been caught out,
well and truly and 'insult to injury' came to his mind.
He sighed when the girl was looking at him with wide
eyes, and proceeded to explain in simple English what
he wanted. She began to smile, as if nothing had happened,
and kept nodding, especially when he promised not to
scream again. With heavy heart and shitloads of trepidation,
he lay back down on the table, prone once more. Cursing
himself for not having noticed what the 'whole hog'
entailed. Was just pain and he'd had plenty of that,
but goddammit, this was a pain he could do without.
"Blokes are hairy." He muttered to himself,
completely ignoring how he liked a muscular smooth body,
and most of all Vadim's, before the torture started
once more. Suffering with gritted teeth through the
ordeal that seemed to go on for an eternity.
kept his mind firmly on the far worse stuff he'd been
through as he was getting waxed. He liked the warmth
of the substance, less when it cooled and tightened,
and the ripping felt like a layer of skin was taken
off as well, but he relaxed, knowing it was worth it,
and also knowing that the speed she did it with was
the real mercy. Every now and then chuckling when he
heard sounds from beyond the partition, and determined
to make it worth Dan's while
once all witnesses
were gone. Thoughts came back of Dan hairless in the
hamam, taste and texture of smooth skin, and he smiled,
content, and with a good dose of humour.
had rarely felt that much relief, when she was finally
done, rubbing some gritty oil all over his body, and
gently massaging it into his tortured skin. It felt
strange, he had to admit that, strange and good, if
what she was vigorously rubbing in would have been less
exfoliating. He didn't utter a sound, though, just let
it all be done and over with, starting to relax a little
when she wiped off whatever she had worked in before,
only to finally start massaging warmed oil into his
skin. Now that was better! After ten minutes, Dan was
ready to grudgingly admit it felt good, and after twenty
minutes he was inclined to forgive Vadim. When she finished
after half an hour he was once again so mellow, he would
have fallen asleep had she not signalled that they were
sighed and smiled, nodding his thanks and taking the
offered towel. Fluffy, big, more a sarong than anything,
he wrapped himself into it, before trotting over to
just lay on his side, trying to work up enough tension
to get up, all covered in warm towels, while the girl
started to clean things away and gave him time to slowly
drift out of that delicious stage of utter relaxation
and weightlessness. He glanced at Dan and struggled
to sit up. "I think I'll sleep for a few hours",
he murmured, and stood, shedding the various towels
and tying one around his hips as well.
if I join you?" Dan grinned, "after a fag
and a drink."
smiled. "Won't be able to fight you off",
he murmured, thanked the girl with a bow, and began
to make his way towards the bungalow. "Apart from
that, I'm really curious what you look like under your
did it." Dan said gravely, and stopped dead in
his track. "You said the word. The forbidden word."
If only he could remember what he had threatened Vadim
with, should he ever say it. Oh, strangle. That was
paused, smiling, arching an eyebrow. "I did. But
I didn't think a towel qualified as 'kilt'."
might. Technically, it well could. After all, it is
a true Scotsman wearing it."
means - hypothetically - that if I ended up in that
discotheka, and I'd move as random and accidentally
as any other drunk tourist, it would be pure-blooded
Trepak? Good to know."
an insufferable arsehole, Russkie, you know that?"
Dan tried hard to suppress his laughter as he started
to walk again, "luckily for you, I am too strung
out after the 'ordeal' that I shall leave the punishment
for another time." He flashed a grin as he shrugged.
"And as for what I look like under the towel,
if you don't know that by now, I have no idea where
you've been for the last eleven years." He grinned
once more. They had almost reached Vadim's bungalow,
and he headed straight towards it. Didn't care where
they ended up.
say, I'd like to refresh my memory."
that case, you can order a couple of drinks and I check
if there's any rugby on the telly, while lying around
naked and more or less decoratively. Means you can 'refresh'
your memory of what a bloke looks like under a towel."
Dan winked and looked around for his packet of fags,
which he had strategically left in Vadim's bungalow.
watch rugby?" That was just one of the puzzling
strange sports that the British were so fond of. Not
that he'd had much time to watch it himself, looked
much like American football to him, and he didn't get
what was so interesting about it.
don't? I would have thought it might be one of the things
you'd picked up by now. Real men. No padding, and more
or less a free for all. Big, heavy, muscular men, all
piling into each other." Dan grinned while lighting
his fag, inhaling the first drag with pure bliss. "I
used to play it myself, back when I was younger."
closed the door behind them and went to the fridge to
check what was left. "Hmmm. If you sell it like
that. The boys in the barracks talked about rugby a
lot. Mostly about the English side. Andy defended his
Welsh honour, and the Scots their side."
of course, and in the world cup, if us Scots got thrown
out, I'd cheer for the Irish before I'd cheer for the
English." Dan grinned. "Got to have national
what Andy said about the Irish and the Scots."
pondered, while smoking. "Don't think Russians
play rugby, or do you?"
don't think so. Not to my knowledge, at least. Hockey,
and ice hockey, but I wasn't very good at that."
Vadim peered into the fridge, but found nothing that
tickled him. "I think I'll get that assortment
of freshly squeezed fruit juices again. What do you
those juices have vodka or similar in them, I'm all
for it." Dan sat down on the bed but kept the towel
smiled. "I'll call the bar for some of that, too."
grinned and nodded, before scooting back on the bed
with the TV remote in his hand, ready to channel-surf.
a little later, room service arrived with what was pretty
much a mobile bar with properly cooled vodka, several
jugs of cooled fruit juice in colours ranging from the
pale rose of watermelon to the rich tone of mango, and
Vadim tipped the guy, closing the door again. "Right.
You'll waste a perfectly good vodka with fruit juice?"
having found what he was looking for, Dan switched off
the telly and put the remote onto the bedside table.
"Depends on the make, and to be honest, feels like
luxury to have a vodka and orange. Not bad, getting
plastered on long drinks, instead of downing illegal
moonshine." He grinned. "Are you going to
mix one for me or do you refuse such a vile task?"
Vadim glanced up from the assortment of liquids. "I
think I've done worse." He reached for the glasses
- and they were already sugar-rimmed. How strange. He
opened the vodka bottle, poured two fingers, and asked,
with just a hint of revulsion: "Ice?" Then
filled the glasses up with mango juice, when Dan shook
patted the space beside him. "You wanted to have
a kip, didn't you?"
a 'kip'?" asked Vadim, before he consented to anything
that carried an unknown risk.
keep forgetting that you don't know all slang words
yet. A kip is a snooze, some shut-eye, a slumber. A
kip is a quick nap. Sleeping, but not for too long."
Yes." Vadim handed Dan a long drink and mixed his
Dan took the first sip with relish. "And what was
it about this refreshing of memory?" He gazed straight
at Vadim's groin, "I wouldn't mind a refresher
sat down, drank half the juice, then found the knot
that kept the towel together, opening it. His skin was
still red, and tender, and he looked at Dan, pointedly.
eyes widened at the sight of the completely smooth and
hairless groin. Thighs. Chest. Legs. Everything. "Ah,
damn. I knew there was a drawback." Putting the
glass down, so he could use his good hand, Dan lifted
his hips off the bed and slid, pushed and shoved the
towel down and open. "Don't laugh."
to laugh at. Smooth - the trail up towards Dan's chest
was gone, everything was gone but for neatly kept pubic
hair, legs bare, only now revealing completely how toned
and strong they were, as the lines and shapes of muscles
underneath became more visible. "Should have you
I doubt you'll let this happen again",
blinked, surprised at the reaction, but then why shouldn't
Vadim like on him what he liked on Vadim? "Well,
if you want to, you can get a camera. Suppose I could
pose for you." He flashed a grin. "And you
are right, this is not going to happen again. Especially
not this!" With that he rolled himself over,
lifting his perfectly smooth arse a couple of inches
into the air.
to resist. Vadim set the glass down and moved with enough
speed to keep Dan from turning or defending, even though
Dan yelped in non-too convincing protest. Getting on
top of Dan's legs and between them, Vadim dipped low
to lick him, prying the cheeks apart with his thumbs,
with Dan too surprised to react at all. Finding the
hole and, without much thinking, pushed his tongue in,
while one of his hands went for Dan's balls.
fuck!" Dan bucked up and towards the tongue. Entirely
unexpected, the sudden onslaught of sensations was too
much to deal with. But he remembered, the next moment,
when Vadim's tongue moved and pushed, fucking him with
wet and heat, causing his cock to harden the same instant.
Remembered a hamam, heat, shaving, Kabul and an enemy's
gave a short laugh at the cursing, and pushed Dan's
legs further apart with shoulder and elbow so he had
better access to his balls while delving as deep as
he could. The musky taste, Dan's taste, but above all,
the smooth surface against his cheek and shoulder, and
arm, and knowing how sensitive it was right now. He
delivered a playful slap to Dan's muscular ass, which
had an unexpected violent reaction, when Dan's body
jerked, despite bruising and all. The sounds Dan made
were almost too loud in the wide, empty room, while
Vadim went on to fuck him with his tongue, turning and
twisting inside, probing against the muscle.
Dan into incoherence, with a sensation so rare and new,
it was unlike getting fucked and yet the good
things about having something inside his body were all
there. That, and more. The tongue invasive but not intrusive.
Its movements unpredictable, while Vadim's hand was
kneading his balls. Occasionally brushing his cock.
"More!" Dan pleaded breathlessly. Needed more
friction, wanted more sensation. Wasn't above begging,
not if it meant his cock would get stroked; not if it
got him higher and further.
leaned into Dan, hand moving over to his cock, thick
and heavy, stroking it in time with his movements, tight,
strong movements, pumping Dan with the only intention
to get him off because his tongue was tiring and he
loved the sounds Dan made now.
with erratic motions, and even more urgent sounds, Dan
was pushing into hand and tongue. Caught between the
two, he bucked and shuddered, letting out a stream of
curses as he tensed, then let lose, cumming into hand
and sheets while pushing back, back, towards that tongue,
until he collapsed with a groan.
let him go as Dan fell back on the bed, loosening his
jaw and grinning. His own desire less urgent, something
that didn't demand release right now. He wiped his hand
on the sheets and sat up to reach for his glass, finishing
the rest of the drink, while studying the smooth behind,
bottom, thighs, all as perfect as if arranged for a
photographer. "You think it was worth it?"
what?" Dan's brain hadn't clued on yet.
Short-circuited from his orgasm.
Vadim ran his hand down Dan's back, tracing the spine
under the bronzed skin. "Worth shaving if you
he paused, then thought, what the hell, he could call
it what it was, "have your ass eaten?"
grumbled something beneath his breath, while stretching
into the touch, cat-like. "Aye," he turned
his head, one-eyed glancing up at Vadim, "but that
wasn't shaving. I wouldn't mind shaving, not
" he started to grin, one-sided as well,
"for 'having my ass eaten'. It's just damn difficult
to shave between the buttocks. On your own
willing to help. You know that." Oh yeah, because
shaving, stroking, fingering would all lead to sex anyway.
Any excuse, any opportunity.
you shave my arse?" Dan pondered less than a second.
"Deal." The grin grew, baring his teeth. "And
while we're at the 'ass eating', do you want yours to
be eaten?" Surprising himself with that, had always
figured it was pretty
yeah, pretty what? Disgusting?
Ridiculous. He'd swallowed Vadim's sperm and blood,
and that had been damn good.
swallowed. "If you
want to." He'd liked
it when Szandor had done it. Damn, the Hungarian had
shown him a few interesting tricks, but that was ages
ago. What, fifteen years?
lifted his head, grinning fully at Vadim. "Fair's
fair, aye? Just can't promise I'll be as good as you.
Haven't done it yet." He scrambled onto his knees
like a man with a purpose. "But remember our old
motto? He who dares wins." Reaching for his vodka
and mango, Dan finished the glass before pointing to
the sheets. "Best get into position, soldier-boy."
okay, man, then." Dan grinned.
dubious, Vadim got onto hands and knees, debating with
himself whether he should tell Dan that it wasn't about
fairness or pay back, but then thought that Dan always
recklessly barged on, whatever happened, and he'd find
it out himself whether he liked it or not. "If
you happen to think it's not your kind of thing, you
have to", he murmured.
know that." Dan delivered a light slap onto one
smooth cheek, then shifted until he knelt between the
open legs. Marvelling at the smooth flesh beneath his
eyes, hands, and
tongue. "You also know
that you are fucking perfect, don't you?" Running
his right hand across skin and hard muscles, before
fingertips lightly touched scars across the broad back.
shuddered. The scars. In Dan's eyes, they doubtlessly
were part of that perfection. Like a signed piece of
art. "Good for the camera", he murmured, closing
his eyes to concentrate on the sensation.
perfect." Murmured once more, before Dan leant
down, kissing his way from the base of Vadim's spine,
down the cleft, then back up and across the buttocks,
all the time caressing the smooth thighs, which opened
further. Dan's tongue trailed a moist path down to Vadim's
balls, spending his time sucking and laving, rewarded
with heavy breathing and sighs. Lifting his head, Dan
rested his good hand in the cleft, feeling the heat
beneath his fingers. "I won't ask you to stay smooth
like that." His voice had dropped, had become husky.
"But if you did, fuck, Vadim, no one and nothing
could be more perfect, and hell, your cock looks fucking
great like that. Even bigger."
planning to. I like it like that, it's more sensitive."
" Dan smiled, before lowering his head once
more. Vadim was still far too coherent for his liking.
Twisting his head to counteract for the fact he only
had one good hand and couldn't pull Vadim's buttocks
apart to get better access, he pushed his face as close
as he could, until his tongue found what it sought.
Slipping between and inside, coaxing, demanding, making
Vadim groan suddenly, as the massive body shuddered.
drove me insane with this. Vadim couldn't suppress the
sounds, didn't want to, this was great, just hoped Dan
didn't mind, didn't stop.
didn't find scent nor taste in the least offensive,
couldn't understand why he'd never done it before. Trying
to emulate Vadim at first, remembering what had felt
best, until he forgot about any of that and just trusted
his instinct. Harsher, harder, pushing himself to the
limit, as he always did. He tongue-fucked Vadim, while
stroking the cock in sync. Not caring if his neck was
aching, or his tongue got tired. He wanted to do this,
and as intense as he could manage.
bit his lips, head back in his neck as he arched and
pushed, just reacting to what Dan did, no force, just
that fucking tenderness, that trust, that being one.
Hand stroking him just right as he climbed higher, and
faster, body tensing as he came, spilling over Dan's
hand, stomach, breathing hard and sweating, then fell
to the side, not eager to lie in the wet patch he'd
created. "Wake me
in a week
chuckled, wiping his lips and stretching his tongue
far out, wiggling it, as he massaged his jaw. Lying
down beside Vadim, he groused with a grin, "leave
me some dry space as well." Pulling Vadim closer,
they lay face to face, kissing tenderly. "Don't
think I'll wake you. Think I'll join you instead."
Dan was still grinning when he drifted off to sleep,
holding onto Vadim, their bodies cooled by the breeze.
day turned into the next. Sun, smiles, beach and sky.
Touching and holding, laughing, caressing, spending
time to just sit and talk, or drink cocktails in the
shade, and enjoy the buffet. And sex. Shagging like
rampant eighteen year olds. Starved for physical contact
and each other's body, they were insatiable.
morning during the first week, Dan came triumphantly
back to the bungalow they were now sharing, waving a
bag around. He'd had a brainwave: found sturdy plastic
bags, elastics to hold them closed, and most importantly,
surgical tape, to seal the bags over his plaster. It
was finally time to get into the water.
Vadim fix the bag, Dan was blowing smoke away from the
other, while musing. "You realise I've never seen
you swimming. Not since a few seconds on a tape, a long,
long time ago."
checked whether he'd properly sealed the protective
cover, then looked up. "And you thought 'what a
bastard, he is probably shot full of chemicals', eh?"
He'd been nothing but a kid back then, oblivious to
the world, of what it meant to fight for his country,
and sadly, horribly in love with the wrong thing, and
encountering the right thing at night, at the hands
of that Hungarian fencer.
I was thinking 'I'm going to destroy that fucking cunt
for what he has done'." Dan shrugged.
nodded, smiling wistfully. "My technique is probably
shot to bits by now."
least you have a technique." Dan grinned, inhaling
smoke. "I just swim. Used to be fairly fast, but
only because they taught us that if you don't move forward,
kit and all, then you're fucking dead. Makes you swim
faster, I tell you." He winked, knowing that Vadim's
combat training wouldn't have been much different. Possibly
worse, if anything, a different attitude towards the
laughed. "Aye. I got a lot of shit for having taken
part in the Olympics. 'No points for style, Vadim Petrovich'.
Ah, well. Doesn't matter. I always liked swimming, though."
prefer running. And climbing. But then you've told me
often enough I'm stark raving mad for missing the Afghan
mountains." Dan winked again and took a step backwards,
checking the bag. It seemed perfect. He was dressed
in the swimming shorts that covered at least some of
his scars, and slipped the shades back over his eyes.
Towel under his arm, he was as ready as a man could
ever be. "Lead the way, I haven't had a swim in
the sea since forever. Dimly remember it used to be
headed down towards the beach. The surf was far down,
as the tide was out, with manageable waves licking up
to the beach, leaving a wet shadow on the brilliant
white sand each time they retreated. The sound alone
calmed Vadim, deeply, nothing quite like it, he could
listen to that forever, not thinking just standing there
and watching. He dropped the towel on the beach, shed
the sandals, and walked towards the water, until it
reached his toes. Glancing to the side, watching Dan,
and feeling the sun beat down on his head and shoulders.
"Don't tell me you'd prefer Afghanistan to this?"
stood with his feet in the water, eyes narrowed against
the glare of the sun, he hesitated before turning towards
Vadim, smiling and shrugging his shoulders. He didn't
answer, for once figured it was wiser not do. "Race
you!" And he suddenly broke into a run towards
the water, laughing aloud.
grinned, and ran, too, sprinting, running with long
jumps as the water got too deep, and dove under once
it reached his hips, in a smooth arc diving beneath
an incoming wave, then swam, propelled by his feet and
the occasionally, almost lazy stroke, to launch himself
back up into the old, favourite butterfly stroke. Breathing
when he broke the surface, arms and whole body working
to cover distance, coming out of the water, and sliding
back underneath, his body remembering, having never
truly forgotten. He probably wasn't as precise or powerful
anymore, but he'd never lost the pure pleasure of swimming.
on the other hand, was just throwing himself into the
water, to swim in any style that came to his mind. On
his back, then going under once more, laughing and spewing
sea water, when making mighty splashes. Calming after
a while, he started to tread water and look around for
the other. Spotting Vadim, he watched the powerful strokes,
the elegance. If anything, age had matured his style,
a pleasure to watch and Dan grinned to himself as he
enjoyed the view.
Russkie!" He called out at last, waving his bagged
arm in the air. "You still look like a pro!"
heard Dan just as he was diving down, and switched styles
in mid-motion, coming up and looking around, seeing
the waving arm. "Water's gorgeous", he shouted
back, feeling the salt on his skin, tasted it, too,
and he wiped his face with a wet hand, then swam back
towards Dan, waves carrying him easily. "You okay
with that bag?"
no problem." Dan threw himself backwards in an
arch, splashing under the water. His legs paddling wildly
in the air, before he twisted himself around, under
water, swimming the couple of strokes towards Vadim,
and coming back up right in front of him. Touching.
He was laughing and shaking his wet, wild hair like
a dog. "Go to admit, there's something to say about
the sea." He pushed himself up and wrapped his
legs around Vadim's hips, grinning.
to say? You could write a novel about the sea."
Vadim gave a laugh and twisted a bit when Dan used him
for support, and increased his swimming a bit to carry
both their weight. "But you're clearly not SBS
Who the fuck is that? One of your depressing Russian
authors?" Dan let himself slide down, but only
to drop back into the sea, twist around, and come back
up in Vadim's back. With his good hand hanging onto
one shoulder, while floating lazily.
followed Dan's movements with his eyes, himself swimming
in the same place. "Special
Service. The other special forces of Britain."
started to laugh so hard, his whole body was shaking
and he almost lost his grip. "Damn. You caught
me out there. But they're a bunch of pussies anyway."
Huffing with another burst of laughter.
apart from that, the most depressing book I've ever
read was British."
that would be? The Financial Times?"
not newspaper. No. It's called 'Nineteen-Eighty-Four',
and it's about a man called Winston Smith, who ends
" Destroyed by the Party, "loving
I remember the title. We had to read it in school. Is
a hell of a long time ago, though." Dan let himself
drop back down, leisurely paddling alongside Vadim,
with no effort at all. Just floating. "It had rats
in it, didn't it? I thought it was cool, when I was
a lad. They found his greatest fear and thus the perfect
torture." The moment the word was out, Dan winced.
Engage mouth first and then brain, as usual.
the rats bit was intense." Vadim gave a slightly
pained smile. "What struck me was the beauty of
the language, in stark contrast with there being no
hope. No refuge in the past, no hope for the future.
The human mind and imagination shackled, and how could
a British writer write about that."
just looked at Vadim, while floating in the water. His
eyes narrowed for a moment, which gave him an expression
of a man who was either thinking hard, or about to take
a crap. "That went right over my head." He
finally admitted. "But I think I remember that
Orwell wrote the book during the war, or right after.
I Britain in the war was a shit place to be." He
shrugged, "mind you, all of Europe was. Probably
all of the world. Guess that, and the Nazi shit, made
him write what he did. All dark and full of terror.
And, hang on, aye, I remember something about a book,
a diary, and a hair, carefully placed inside. That struck
me as totally crazy back then, that they even replaced
the hair. Holy shit, sticklers to detail, I tell you."
inhaled. "I could tell you some stories like that
from the GDR
the German Democratic Republic.
Their secret service was like that. Germans. They always
do everything to perfection, even the spy business."
I know. They told us all about them in the Forces. Cold
War, enemy number one and number two and all that shit."
Dan shook his head, while moving his arms to stay afloat,
peering up at the sunlit sky. "Ah, damn, I'll get
back to the beach, I think there's water creeping into
the bag. See you later?"
think I'll have a quick swim further out, just a few
minutes." Vadim moved closer for a kiss, unhurried,
unhidden out here in the water, then allowed himself
to fall to the side, diving, and went for a fast, short
swim that made his body buzz in all the good ways, while
Dan swam back to the shore.
in thoughts, triggered by memories of an all too recent
past. Dan was lying on the beach, towel across the scars
on his abs to protect the sensitive skin, otherwise
roasting himself. He looked up through his shades when
thinking about what you said." Dan smiled and patted
the large towel beside him. "All of the squaddies
who got stationed in Germany, having a jolly good time
with bratis and beer, knew that they were meant to hold
up the evil comrade USSR for three minutes. That was
all they'd have, knowing they'd be run over. But those
three minutes were enough to get the nuclear missiles
out of the ground, 'hidden' all over Germany, poised
towards the enemy." Dan huffed a dry and humourless
laughter, while Vadim sat down. "What a simple
black and white world, aye? And how bloody lucky we
were that it never happened. It's too late now, they've
dismantled most of that shit by now, and they're far
too busy in the Gulf and other places."
nodded. "A mad world. I remember thinking
thinking about that whole nuclear business, about the
fire and the storm and what happened in Hiroshima. I'm
not sure I ever fully understood what it meant or would
have meant. I wanted a heroic war, something like Kursk,
or Stalingrad, or the battle for Berlin. Thinking that
those missiles would have wiped out armies
I had small children. I wondered whether the Americans
would bomb Moscow first, and turn my family into shadows
of ash against the wall of our apartment."
in Britain were just as scared." Dan nodded, "and
definitely in Germany. All those peace protests and
anti nuclear weapons marches. I used to think they were
pathetic, and that they should stay home and be thankful
that we were protecting them, but I guess I didn't think
very much in those days." Letting himself roll
onto his side, Dan looked at Vadim. "You think
it's over now? I don't. I just think they are looking
for the next big enemy. No one seems to be able to live
without their black and white. Wonder who the next one
is. Everyone against Saddam?"
won the race. My
" nation homeland whatever
"The old enemy is going to its knees, but Russia
is proud. She may rise again. With everybody declaring
independence, there's always a chance for civil war.
And there are the Chinese, biding their time, they look
back on a long history of cunning. Saddam? He has that
convenient likeness to Hitler with that very unfortunate
liking for small black moustaches, but it's a small
country. Last time the West had to fear the Persians
was during the Roman Empire. I'm not sure."
they've got oil. Control of the oil fields is all that
counts. Or do you think anyone went into Kuwait and
Iraq to save those 'poor' people? Bullshit. The Allied
Forces did that as much as the Soviets intended to save
the Afghans." Dan watched Vadim rub sunscreen into
his fair skin.
plenty more oil
but yeah, I guess the Americans
will be getting discounts for their
efforts." Vadim shook his head. "Some people
say it's the end of history, but, honestly, I don't
think having just one superpower is a good thing. Who
keeps them under control?"
think that all superpowers are shit. All wars are crap,
and there are no winners. Just old battle horses like
you and I, who devoted their life to the fighting."
Dan quirked an altogether weary grin. "We are all
losers, Vadim, but in our small worlds, we can be winners.
You and I, we are winners. Of the hardiest kind."
But I'm betting we will see the Americans swing their
big dick just for the hell of it. Winning the Cold War
must go to their heads. Their history is too short to
learn the true price and responsibility of victory.
And I, for one, would rather cut my throat than work
got news for you." Dan laughed dryly once more,
before holding his good hand out for a squirt of lotion,
gesturing to Vadim to turn over so he could rub it into
his back. "You already are working for them.
Or what else do you think Britain has become since the
80s? Uncle Sam's spit lickers."
as an extension of the USA. Vadim had thought that was
just grim joke, or Dan had the same kind of black humour,
or it was, indeed, the truth. The old link between motherland
and colony, but these days the Brits were the dog that
was wagged by the tail. It grated, grated to think that
was where, ultimately, his money came from, and it was
their cause he furthered. Funny, really, one day he'd
been glad to be alive, and the next he started to worry
whose agenda he killed and bled for. "Ah fuck."
shrugged, "I don't care. One government is as corrupt
as the other, one country is as shit as the next. I
just do my job, cling to the good people, and fuck my
way through life. I got you, what the hell else do I
want? I got money, am alive, and all of that against
all odds. And
" Dan leaned closer, hand on
Vadim's shoulder, "and I got a farm on the other
end of the world. In New Zealand. Away from all the
farm where? All I know about New Zealand is that they
are famously nuclear free."
island." Dan grinned, excitement springing into
his eyes. "I haven't been back yet, too busy, but
I bought the farm with shitloads of land for a pittance.
Bought it when Maggie sent me off on R&R after your
" hesitated, "your mock execution. It's
dilapidated, but fantastic. You got to go through a
valley to get to it, and it has an old orchard and views
of the mountains. I fancied it as the place where I
wanted to retire when I am finally fucked up. And now,
aye, would you want to retire there with me? A Russkie
in New Zealand is nothing special. Apart from the Maoris
they come from everywhere and no one cares. Great people,
as far as I could make out."
do see us sitting together on a porch looking out on
the mountains, holding hands when we're old, don't you?"
I do. But don't forget the booze and a fag in that picture."
He leaned so close, he could kiss the back of Vadim's
neck. No people anywhere to be seen.
couldn't help that smile and felt his heart tighten
with a painful tenderness. "Shit. Dan. Even if
I had any other place to go
settled, then. You and I, like a bloody conventional
couple, are going to retire on the farm. Next R&R
I'll take you there. But for now, what about a bit more
sunning, before going back to the beach, or, if you
fancy, back to the bungalow for a nice slow fuck?"
He was grinning from ear to ear.
idea, and then we go back and change the covers - or
fuck in your bungalow while the room service takes care
of my bed." Vadim lay down, confident, smiling
to himself as he thought about that. Retiring at the
end of the world. It didn't get any further away than
New Zealand. Impossible.
* * *
next days and nights continued in the same laid back
and relaxed way, filled with never-ending sun, sky and
water, and sex. Every time of day and night, whenever
they could, whenever they wanted, with no one there
to frown nor interfere. No one cared, no one raised
a brow. The Thais always smiled and the other guests
did not care much about their fellow holiday makers.
Enjoying every moment, right into the middle of the
was when Dan came sauntering back from the reception
area. Shades over his eyes and the shirt hanging loose.
He grinned at Vadim as he climbed the steps to the veranda.
"We just got us an additional week's holiday in
a nice, sunny climate."
put the book on the table by the side, still not much
use reading, but he thought he was making progress.
He looked at Dan's scars that were not completely covered
by the shirt. He'd said he'd wanted to make a phone
call and pick up something from reception. "Yeah,
will be good to leave this chilly, dark place."
He gave a grin. "What's up? You bored, and hired
us out to Monrovia or Sierra Leone?"
right. I'm bored, can't you tell?" Laughing and
rolling his eyes, Dan flopped himself into the other
chair, legs stretched out, slouching. "I just called
Maggie." He lifted his good hand, produced a bag
he'd been carrying behind his back, and handed it over
stomach tensed as something cold in the bag touched
his heated skin when he peered inside. Two very large
tubs of particularly exquisite ice cream, happily melting
away. "Strawberry and
" He glanced up.
"Not peanut butter. You're merciful."
He inspected the packs and found plastic spoons attached,
then handed Dan the strawberry one. Felt too warm to
try and tease Dan with the cold, but, he thought, that
was something he'd try remember. Walnut and Belgian
chocolate. Not bad. "Maggie?"
Her Excellency." Dan winked, "she invited
us to spend the last week of R&R in Dubai."
laughed. "Seems you need towelheads around you.
Dubai?" But of course, it was about meeting 'Maggie'.
He'd rather not. Every time he'd met that woman, he'd
felt miserable, small, powerless, guilty as sin, or
a combination of some of those. Something about her
always put him on edge - and of course she only helped
him because of Dan. Gratitude, most likely, or just
the fact Dan made people generous and pleasant. Some
of the time.
Dan nodded, balancing the ice cream on his knee while
tugging in with relish. "It's the Las Vegas of
the Muslim world." His speech got slurred when
a particularly large spoonful of cold ice cream played
havoc with his teeth, sending jolts through his palate.
"Gambling, boozing," he grinned and nodded,
emphasising, "oh yes, boozing, if you know where
to go. That, and beautiful ladies." He laughed,
as if that interested either of them.
trying to sell this to Jean, or to me? thought Vadim
and didn't like the pang of jealousy that went straight
through. "Well, should have more action than here."
He didn't want to keep Dan in a place that bored him
for too long, even if that meant hearing Arabic again,
the mournful call to prayer, naan and whatever else
his mind connected with Muslims. Still didn't like them.
Precious few people he actually did like, reflected
Vadim. "Should we book accom, then?"
said we can stay in the embassy if we like, or get a
discount price in one of the luxury hotels. She happens
to know someone whom I happened to know as well, who
" Dan winked.
long as we can be 'unnatural' and they don't stone us,
I'm game." Vadim peeled the lid off the ice cream,
and opened the little plastic thing that held the spoon.
then." Dan nodded, shoved another mouthful between
his teeth, ignoring the consequent jolts of pain. When
it came to sweets, he'd rather suffer. Especially when
it was strawberry flavoured. "I'll give her another
should have done my background checks already."
Vadim scraped some of the solid ice cream up and then
gathered some of the molten stuff clinging to the side
of the tub.
what I understand, they did your background checks to
and fro, up and down and thrice sideways." Dan
grinned, then took his time with the next spoonful.
Musing around a mouthful of creamy vanilla, "I
have a few things to pick up from the embassy."
Catching a drop of melting ice with his tongue, causing
Vadim to stare at him, mesmerized, and imagining cold
kisses on heated skin. That was exactly what he'd do.
see, there were some things I told her to throw away
but she didn't. She kept them for me, and, damn, I'm
bloody thankful for it. Couldn't tell her that, of course."
your books?" asked Vadim, by way of teasing.
Dan said with a grin, "no, the lapis lazuli beads."
He'd never kept anything, had never clung to material
possessions. Except for those prayer beads.
glanced up, an almost stricken expression ghosted across
his features. Thrown away. Glad for it. He shouldn't
dig for it, shouldn't ask, didn't quite know how to
react. Be glad Dan wanted them back or wince at the
fact they obviously meant so much that Dan hadn't wanted
them anymore. "The tasbih", he echoed.
stopped eating, suddenly aware of Vadim's reaction.
"I'm sorry." Shit, that expression, of course!
Why had he told him? Hadn't been necessary, but damn,
he usually opened his mouth and started to engage his
brain after the words were out. What wouldn't he give
for the lady's diplomatic skills. "It was just,
" no, Vadim didn't know, "I
was just so goddamned hurt. But I'm glad, very glad,
that she kept them for me. She must have known
better than I did at the time."
smiled. "Well, I wouldn't have gone to Kabul and
got you a new one. No way in hell."
would." Dan glanced at his melting ice cream, "I'd
give a lot to see the mountains again."
can take the man out of the mountains, but never the
mountains out of the man", Vadim murmured and smiled.
"Wherever you drag me
Dubai, Kabul, it's
alright." Apart from one place he'd never visit
again. Moscow. But Afghanistan was still there, the
black flies, the dust, the hidden water in the moonscape.
The chaikhana. The building, reduced to rubble, where
they'd 'met'. Other couples had a bar, or a flat. They
were cursed with Afghanistan. When he thought of the
mountains, he remembered the cuts in his back, how he'd
screamed in that vast place, with no hope of escape
or rescue, death imminent, and the heat of a body in
a cold cave, a smell and movements in the dark, and
the too strong, too bitter black tea.
one day." Dan trailed off, then tipped the tub
to his lips, drinking the remains of the ice cream.
Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he set the
empty tub down onto the table between them. Determined,
as if ending a conversation that had never taken place
in the first instance.
then, though, we've got another three days, the sun
is shining, the water is lapping, the ice is melting,
the Thais are friendly, the beds are beckoning, and
if you ever sneakily get me to have my arse waxed again,
then the Russian is dying." Dan flashed a grin.
"Unless, of course, you can convince me otherwise."
laughed. "Too much pain for your taste, eh, Dan?
SAS roughie toughie squaddie not up to the pain?"
He put his feet down and leaned forward. "Well,
I prefer less hair between my teeth, and you've already
agreed to shaving. That an incentive?" He gave
a fierce grin, amusement and arousal mixing at the thought,
the exact mix that lead to wrestling and a 'who wins
really?" Dan's brows shot up to his hairline, baring
his teeth in a feral grin. "You're only saying
that, Mr Big Soft Extra Groomed Poof, because I have
a hand in plaster. You wouldn't dare otherwise."
Smirking, he pushed the shades up, until they sat on
top of his tousled hair. "I've fucked up bigger
guys than you, I have you know."
laughed. "That's not the issue. Doing damage is
one thing, dealing with pain is something else."
He stood, moved over to Dan and felt the gaze on him.
The speedos were highlighting his body, as he pretty
well knew, and he wanted nothing more than feel Dan's
hair against his abs. "Not sure 'soft' is the right
word", Vadim murmured, "but poof, aye."
looked up, all the way along the body. He'd be close
enough to hook a finger into that skimpy piece of material,
slide it down and
he grinned. "Does that
mean you would want me to suck your cock?"
tell." Vadim reached for the sunglasses
and put them on the table, running his fingers through
Dan's hair. "You eating always gives me ideas."
moved his head forwarded, nuzzling Vadim's cock through
the thin fabric. Mouth curving into a grin at the growing
reaction he could feel beneath his lips. "I'd say
you're pretty obvious about it." Murmured against
the increasing interest, "even for someone as un-subtle
chest and stomach muscles tensed, and he leaned forward,
bringing his cock closer against the lips. "Can't
help it", he murmured. "You're just too good
at doing this." He smiled, wanted to be taken to
bed again, here in this place where nothing seemed to
matter. They weren't a 'pair of faggots' here. Unlike
the merc camp. Unlike any other place in the world,
except for a cave in the mountains. But bringing up
retirement wasn't a good idea. Dan seemed to enjoy it
I have to drag you inside in that case." Dan lifted
his head and eyes. "Even the Thais would be pretty
pissed off at a public display." He winked before
grabbing Vadim's arse with his good hand, pulling himself
up from the chair and sliding along the other's body,
until they stood with no space between them. "You
think we'll manage to spend the last three days in bed,
fucking our brains out?"
nodded, pressing against him. "Yes. Seems like
good idea. Best one you've ever had."
And if you fuck me hard enough, I might forget the torturer.
For a while. A little while. You inside me will remind
me why being a bitch and a faggot feels good, and why
I lost my pride for this feeling. He swallowed hard,
forced Dan into a kiss, hating his own thoughts, the
shame that had a hold on him these days, the echoing
voice of the torturer there, like the man was watching
him, recording everything he did and felt. The need
to feel Dan, and being called a masochistic faggot for
have my moments." Dan murmured, grinning, pulled
into the kiss. He could feel tension in Vadim's body,
but ignored it. A figment of his imagination. Vadim
was willing enough for sex at any time, instigated often
enough. The niggling worry was all in his mind, they
just needed to reacquaint with each other, body and
pulled Vadim with him, inside.