their last day in Edinburgh, Dan had to bite the bullet
and go shopping, or he'd get into deep shit with a certain
Frenchie. Yet buying the best man outfit for Jean's
wedding turned out to be less painful than he had feared.
With Vadim picking up a tailor made suit later in Glasgow,
Dan sent him off to scour the Edinburgh museums, so
he could enjoy the National Gallery and Museum of Scotland
on his own, while he was out of Dan's hair.
up the Royal Mile, Dan had passed North Bridge and was
on his way back down again, towards Holyrood Palace,
when he spotted a large shop to his left, with mannequins
in the window and a large, glossy sign: kilt maker.
Dan's height, there was not much in ready-made kilts
to choose from, despite the size of the shop, but the
choice of tartans was staggering nevertheless. Still,
his sept's tartan, the MacFadyens, was not available,
except for the ancient hunting version, and after a
short while of deliberations with the down-to-earth
shop assistant, Dan decided on a black on black tartan,
which had a subtle weave and went easily with the rest
of the outfit.
managed to get the whole outfit in his size, despite
long legs, narrow hips and broad shoulders, and came
back out in under an hour. Prince Charlie jacket with
square silver buttons, white shirt and black cravat,
black waistcoat and finely woven kilt. A glossy black
fur sporran, black belt and silver buckle, with silver
kilt pin in the form of a sword and thistle. The stockings,
classic ghillie brogues and flashes as well, with the
final accessory, the shean dhu.
heaved a great sigh of relief and lit a fag once he
stepped outside, laden with bags and parcels, to relax
in one of the many cafés along the Royal Mile.
Waiting for five o' clock to meet Vadim at the Tron
church, and to down a well-deserved pint and dram in
Cockburn street's - the name of the street making Vadim
laugh - Malt Shovel and then a meal, wherever it took
forbade Vadim to even peek at the manifold bags, and
thus he was none the wiser regarding Dan's outfit, when
they checked out late the next morning, leaving the
car in the hotel car park, strolling through the beautiful
city. Dan was on his best behaviour all day, following
Vadim around the exclusive shops, as long as he got
strong coffee in regular intervals and his favourite
Scottish sweets to boot.
was Friday afternoon, when they sat once again in the
car, heading towards Glasgow, after a quick phone call
to the two men who'd be awaiting them. For a weekend
Dan didn't quite know. Not yet.
are you planning?" asked Vadim, as if reading his
I don't know. What the fuck do you do with two prisoners
who are hell-bent on getting off on humiliation and
being used, for two days and nights?" Half serious
question, half raised eyebrow and cocky grin. "I
guess permanent markings are right out."
know. They seemed the type who might appreciate semi-permanent
markings." Dan smirked at Vadim's words, who kept
his eyes carefully on the road, as he was thinking hard.
"And will I be a master too, or the third slave?
Or something in between?"
" Dan glanced to the side, then back at his
hand, as it lay on the dashboard. Thinking it through
for himself, up until now he had barged in and done
what came to his mind. Did he have to properly plan
everything now? "Not third slave. Not with those
two there." It made sense, but if pressed, he wouldn't
have been able to explain it. "Will you trust me?"
blinked and looked at him. "Yes. You know that."
Dan leaned back, relaxing. "In that case, I'll
just do my usual: going ahead without thinking too much.
Let's see what happens, I'm sure I'll come up with something
all of us will enjoy." He winked at Vadim, who
raised a curious brow and said nothing else, until they
got off the motorway and into the city proper.
they'd parked the car and got to the building, the door
was buzzed open immediately, and they were greeted upstairs
by the two men, so very definitely prepared as they
knelt in the hallway, naked, their erections encased
by cock rings, both wearing collars, both securely gagged,
but Martin, the younger man, blindfolded as well and
his arms shackled behind his back, while Gordon was
holding the blindfold and the steel cuffs up towards
Dan. Without a word but a look in his eyes, so hungry,
it wiped out any worries that Dan might have had on
the journey to Glasgow.
fell back slightly and thought to close the door while
Dan cuffed and blindfolded Gordon, as matter-of-factly
as if this was an ordinary occurrence. "No awkward
talking this time", Vadim murmured, in Russian,
and hung up his jacket.
nodded, casting a glance at Vadim, and then he hooked
a finger under each of the collars, and dragged the
two men into the living room. The flat was warm, heated
for being naked, and the kitchen, it quickly became
clear, well stocked, while drinks were already waiting
on the couch table, poured for two - not four.
a mystic, Dan found his way by instinct from that point,
orchestrating two days and nights of intricately balanced
pain and pleasure, fear and lust. Creating relationships
that deepened with every stroke and touch, every groan
and whimper, and each hour that went past. Watching
straining, immobile bodies, culminating in gagged screams
and collapsing bodies. Sated, exhausted, and shuddering
with exertion. Only to be tied together, on the floor,
immobile once more, and left for the night. Martin and
Gordon - nameless and faceless during that time - were
made to watch Dan and Vadim, on their own bed, with
Dan tenderly making love to Vadim, spooning, and each
gentle touch the mirror of every punch and slap and
all the pain he had given out before. And Vadim couldn't
help but realize how much he did enjoy being watched
- even though the emotion was real, not an act put on,
his own need increasing with every thrust and every
touch, but strangely safe in these guys' house. Watched,
because they couldn't move, and they watched with awe,
if anything, no disgust, no cold camera eyes, instead
taking in, memorizing. When he'd cum, he turned to press
his face against Dan's chest, just breathing, then kissing
Dan, and finally relaxing, all but forgetting about
the two guys on the floor.
forty-eight hours, on Sunday, despite almost no words
having been spoken - nothing beyond orders, they had
forged a bond, born out of need and understanding. Knowing
that each man was giving the other what they needed,
with Vadim the somewhat less defined factor, an entity
with more facets than any of them. Sometimes, he'd watch,
detached from everybody else's lust, sometimes, he'd
act on Dan's orders, sometimes, he'd give orders himself.
Changeable, not knowing himself what he'd do the next
moment, as the chemistry between all of them shifted
and changed, and he'd act on instinct, whatever he felt
was suitable. It was really his understanding of how
Dan thought that still made this a seamless whole. He
knew what Dan wanted him to do, and how, and what Dan
intended for the guys, and he always moved to help that,
enhance it all.
stayed Sunday night, but that night was different. The
'game' was over, and the four men sat and talked, after
Martin and Gordon had been cared for and tucked in.
To anyone else their experience had to seem like an
ordeal, but to them it had been physical extremes coupled
with a mental intensity they had never experienced before.
No awkwardness then, as they sat and shared a last drink,
having found a mode and level of communication that
knew no barriers and no embarrassments. Mates, on a
sexual level of deep understanding, and the genuine
promise and wish to meet again.
night Dan and Vadim shared the bed with them. Tight,
but everything else would have felt wrong, and the night
saw them sleep. All of them, dreamless, and sated.
was calm and mellow when they left Exeter airport early
afternoon the next day, picking up their rental car.
He let Dan drive, it was his turn, after all, and Vadim
preferred it that way. Even though the phone call had
been pleasant, when they'd arranged the meeting just
before leaving Kuwait, it had seemed quite far away,
and now it was there.
doctor would doubtlessly be interested how he was faring,
medically, and Vadim was working on the best way how
to report on the things that had happened. The nausea,
the panic attacks, the nightmares. Not an altogether
pleasant prospect, and he considered lying or playing
it down. But then, the doctor could probably not terminate
his contract - at least he supposed that. He didn't
actually know. Not what to expect, not what to say.
luck on their side they had no traffic hold-ups and
drove steadily on towards Lympstone in Devon. Like Scotland,
there was a lot of landscape variation pressed into
this little patch of land, and finally, they arrived
at the gates. The guards on duty were expecting them,
and issued them a car pass after a quick check, as well
as guest passes, to be worn at all times. Strangely
enough, the few weeks spent here had made Vadim so familiar
with this place that he still felt at ease.
idea where the Mess is?" Dan had clipped the pass
onto his shirt, and was driving slowly through the camp.
there ..." Vadim pointed. "This is where they
got me ready for Hereford."
right." Dan nodded and moved the vehicle towards
a building close to the flat-roofed medical centre.
He found a parking space that wasn't designated in any
way, and turned off the ignition. "Any idea how
long it will take? Since we haven't organised accommodation,
I was wondering if we could wrangle a coupe of Singlies
rooms here." Unspoken that there was no way they
could share accom. Not here. Not now. Not in the Forces.
"Maybe somewhere in the transition block."
No idea." Vadim reached over and pressed Dan's
hand. "Guess we should ask the doc what he recommends?"
but I don't intend to stay. This is between you and
don't have secrets from you."
shook his head. "It's not about secrets."
got out of the car, with Vadim stretching his legs and
rolling his shoulders, while Dan put his shades back
on, as if the April sky was too bright. Vadim was still
tired from the weekend, and caught himself smiling as
he remembered where the tiredness came from. "Ah,
and there he is." He headed towards a distinguished
looking man who'd just stepped out of the building,
hand stretched out.
Krasnorada!" Dr Williams smiled, taking a couple
of steps towards them, until he shook hands with Vadim.
"It's good to see you, and see you so well."
nearly as good as seeing you, Sir."
towards Dan, who had walked slower, watching, the doctor
stretched his hand out to him. "You must be Mr
McFadyen. It's a pleasure to meet you."
you, Sir." Dan couldn't help it, the honorific
just slipped out, it seemed right with this man. This
Dr Williams had a natural authority about him, which
made Dan take his shades back off again, and generally
behave at his best. Old surroundings, memories of instilled
respect, but now with long hair, sans uniform, and far
too many scars.
come in, please."
... if you don't mind, I have a look around. Might meet
an old mate here, who knows." Dan shrugged, reluctant
to stay just yet. He felt he needed to give space, and
wasn't sure if it wasn't he who needed the space. The
weekend had been more than he'd bargained for. Not in
a bad way, but intense, perhaps too intense.
frowned slightly and shook his head. "You're welcome
to be there."
Dr Williams smiled, "but I believe that it would
a good idea if Mr McFadyen had a look around and joined
nodded, glad for the understanding. "I'll be back
in the afternoon, aye? I'll have a look for accom."
yes, I forgot to mention this, you will find that you
have been booked into transit accommodation. The Officer's
Mess happened to have a comfortable family room, and
I took the liberty to reserve it." Dr Williams
didn't even blink, and Dan began to wonder about the
man for the first time. How it was no surprise he was
friends with an equally formidable person: the Baroness.
smiled. "That takes care of our biggest worry -
the accommodation, not the ..." fact it would be
single rooms. Vadim coughed. "Well. Thank you,
Sir." He extended an arm, touched Dan's shoulder
and pressed it briefly. He met Dan's eyes when he smiled,
then turned to follow the doctor, smiling slightly to
then, Mr Krasnorada, would you like a tea?" Dr
Williams led Vadim into the only comfortable room in
the surgery, the one he had visited quite a few times
always." Vadim looked around, again at all the
medical journals on the shelf. "How is your research
going? Any progress?"
thank you." Indicating for Vadim to sit down, the
doctor went to busy himself with the kettle and the
mugs. "I don't have much longer in the Forces,
I will soon reach the fifty-five mark. I shall retire,
but of course, this only means that I will be able to
dedicate myself to my research." He glanced at
Vadim, "Research, which is so sorely needed."
Pouring the boiling water, he prepared the tea exactly
as Vadim liked, remembering his preferences, which made
Vadim smile. He was very fond of the man, he realized.
Strangely, like some protective layer had been taken
away and this man was actually close. Fifty-five mark.
The doctor, then, was between ten and thirteen years
older than he was. He looked older. But then, it always
surprised Vadim on some level how old he was himself
by now. Time just progressed.
a worthwhile occupation. I'm not sure what I'll do with
my retirement when it comes." Maybe I'll be able
to read again, he thought, wistfully.
you might like to do all the things you haven't been
able to do in the meantime." Sitting down as well,
Dr Williams put the mug in front of Vadim, then took
a sip. "How have you been faring?"
Kuwait's been good. I am fit for service, despite the
... ah, expected problems."
the doctor took his glasses off and polished them. Something
Vadim had seen a few times, whenever Williams was deep
in thought. "Would you like to tell me about those
It's mostly nightmares." Vadim frowned, thinking,
choosing his words carefully. "I still scream,
and then it's difficult to ... have anybody close. Which
is pretty bad for Dan, but at least ... I don't attack
him. I just struggle out of sleep and wake up, sweating,
but I never remember what those dreams are. It's like
fear, with no images. No reason, no faces, just some
nameless darkness, some dread coming from deep inside,
so deep that I can't reach it." He inhaled while
Dr Williams took a sip of his tea, listening intently.
"Under pressure, though, in a combat zone, I function.
That's the reflexes. A few times, when there's a particular
thing ... like somebody I feared ... and we talk about
it, it feels like a kick to the stomach. Leaves me reeling
and nauseous. That's pretty unpleasant, too." Like
mentioning the colonel. Even in death, he was bad. Best
try and forget him.
revisit what you said about the nightmares and about
the functioning. Do you feel that the nightmares and
other reactions are more, or less, frequent the more
relaxed you are? What I mean is, are there triggers
that you have been able to pinpoint? Does stress have
a negative or a positive effect?"
pursed his lips. "I think it's less often when
I'm calm. It's mostly when I anticipate something bad.
Not battle, I can handle battle. Sometimes, I can't
handle people. When there's guilt, or jealousy, or shame.
That makes it more frequent, I think, at least that's
a good guess." He paled. "Like ... Konstantinov
said. I punish ... myself for something inside me. He
was right. He got me on that count."
man, Konstantinov, is a psychologist, like I am."
know him." Vadim was almost shocked that Dr Williams
was aware of the man. It didn't seem right, but made
sense. He felt his teeth grind and forced himself to
breathe against the tension. Nothing to be afraid of.
But his mind was reeling back - he didn't want to remember
Konstantinov, didn't want to dig around in that bullet
hole. But then, maybe he could at some point extract
the bullet. Wherever it was in the blood and guts.
Dr Williams nodded. "In fact, I have been aware
of his human rights abuse for too many years. This is
why you might feel that he 'got' you in some respect,
but all it is, is an understanding how the human mind
works. A therapist would do the same, but to gain the
opposite result." Dr Williams folded his hands
around the mug, peering at Vadim over the rim of his
spectacles. "The question is, do you believe you
feel more guilt or shame than you used to, before the
I've never been a ... moral man. I used to accept I
was ... following orders. I killed, I committed crimes,
war crimes even by Geneva Convention standards, but
they never bothered me. That was war. The other side
didn't pull any punches, either. The lines ... blurred,
between a civilian and a dush... an insurgent. I never
felt guilty for Afghanistan. After ... he was finished
with me, I felt guilty for breathing ... for feeling
what I feel. For being homosexual. For ... responses
like desire. Dan ... Dan just a few days ago asked me
whether I'd want to be 'normal' if I had the chance.
I think he's onto something there. I feel ashamed. He
... just walks around and tells everybody we're together,
but it makes me scared and ashamed. I just can't do
it, and even though I get used to it, I still have that
response. I can't help it, and the more I fight it,
the worse it gets."
Williams grey eyes rested with absolute concentration
on Vadim. Each word, every gesture, nothing seemed to
escape his acute but compassionate scrutiny. "Even
though it will not feel like it to you, but what you
experience now is a typical response to the torture
that has been inflicted upon you. You are not alone
in this, and while that fact might not help you right
now, I do want you to know that it is possible to help
and lessen the response, enable you to learn to deal
with the triggers, and therefore get better."
it was normal. Experienced before. He wasn't out of
the ordinary, it was all just a reflex, like blinking,
like any other response. Vadim inhaled, fought the tension
as much as he could, but it remained there, his body
responding as if there were blows and kicks coming in.
Williams took another sip of the tea. "It is a
hard path to walk down and it would take time, determination,
and might affect your relationship adversely."
effects. That sounded bad. "No. I've at least sorted
that thing out. I ... only have Dan. What ... what do
the others do? Get divorced?"
do, yes." Pausing, "I won't lie to you, Mr
Krasnorada, but I also believe that your determination
to get through, and the strength of your relationship,
are the best possible basis anyone can have. I don't
think I am making false assumptions about your relationship?"
It's just ..." Vadim flashed a pained smile. "I'm
so scared to lose him. That that ... stuff inside me
comes out and takes over everything. That I lose control."
Williams looked at Vadim, waited a moment before asking,
"how dependent are you on your partner?"
don't think I could live without him."
that, Mr Krasnorada," the doctor's voice was quiet,
yet there was no doubt it held warmth and compassion,
"that is where the problem lies. Instead of finding
strength in your partner, you need to find it in yourself.
You need to find the core strength, the essence of you,
on which to rely on."
shuddered, forced himself to listen, but his throat
was so tight he'd be unable to drink. Or even think
Konstantinov is a very skilled torturer, because he
is a very good psychologist, and that psychologist -
against everything that is humane and ethical - has
twisted and nearly destroyed that core strength. But
it is still there and you will be able to find it. However,
you would have to let go of your external strength,
your partner, for the time of your journey. If not,
you will always lean on him, instead of fighting through
the pain, the nausea and the terror, to reach yourself."
Dr Williams did know the man. Even his first
name. The name tensed him up again, knotted his guts
as the face came back. The sound of his voice, the man's
smell, the feeling of his trouser leg against his face.
Vadim shuddered, closed his eyes, wanted to run away,
and still knew that the doctor was right. The words
almost too much to bear right now. Was he leaning on
Dan? Yes, he was. He let Dan make decisions, went with
them, quite gladly left them to Dan, like he'd been
weakened. He had taken on a lesser role, become passive
and accommodating, defined by Dan, and nothing else.
Sexually, emotionally, and in all other ways, too. "I
had it. For a while. During training. In battle. I can
function. I can ... be strong. I can work. What ...
what else do you know about Konstantinov?"
Williams lifted his hand a little, a small gesture.
"Let's backtrack for a moment. You might not believe
this right now, but there is the chance that one day
you might tear your partner apart. Aggression, turned
inside for too long, suddenly turning towards the people
who mean the most. I am not saying that this will
happen. Not at all, but I am saying that it might
happen, and that you need to be aware of this. You might,
one day, hate your partner, for what you love him for
right now. Loyalty, strength, you name it, it can get
poisoned by the trauma." Dr Williams pulled in
a slow breath and shook his head gently with a wistful
smile. "I wish I didn't have to tell you all this."
was speechless. He'd be different. He wouldn't let this
happen. Just because it had happened before didn't mean
it had to happen in his case. No. Impossible. Wasn't
that why he was holding back? Keeping safe? Questioning
his responses all the time? Give his mind the power
to question every response, every single emotion if
it had to be.
for Vladimir Konstantinov, you could say the man is
my personal nemesis." The doctor's small and humourless
laugh was entirely appropriate in its dryness and disillusion.
"He has been publishing so-called academic papers
on how to break a person's mind. Of course, he would
have never said this explicitly, but I have no doubts
that they convey an implied how-to. I cannot even put
into words how unethical this is. Inhumane, unthinkable,
but sadly, I have worked with the results too often.
To put it like this, for every research there is application
- and this can be for good or for bad."
means he ... teaches his method." Vadim realized
his face was cold, and he shivered. "He gloats
about it. What he did to me. What he turned me into."
could call it that." Watching Vadim closely, Dr
Williams leaned slightly forward. "You are not
the only one, and the Soviet Union was not the only
country." Pushing the cooling remains of the tea
aside, he looked at Vadim. Straight on, and as always,
no nonsense. "Neither am I the only one working
on undoing as much damage as possible. You are not alone,
Mr Krasnorada, not in any way, and what I said to you
before you left for Selection still stands true: you
may call me any time, and I will always make sure that
you have my private number."
nodded, wanted to reach out, but at the same time didn't
want to touch. It wouldn't be appropriate, he felt.
Caught between these responses, he did nothing, merely
looked into those kind eyes and wished, on some level,
he could do that, could enter that therapy, but at the
same time, he was fucking scared of breaking again.
Because that was what it would be. Breaking him, and
probably Dan, and what he shared with Dan. Even if he
was weakened these days, he was functional. Dan accepted
the occasional nightmares. As long as it didn't get
worse than that, they'd be able to cope. "I just
want to kill him", he murmured. "Replace ...
that memory with the memory of his blood on my hands."
what good would that do? Do you think that everything
that happened would suddenly be gone?"
not about good. It's about settling that score and to
make sure he doesn't do it again."
life for a life? But you are not dead
killed for less", said Vadim. "Or do you truly
believe this man should live?"
is not for me to say." Dr Williams' smile was tinged
with melancholy, perhaps regret, and yet the compassion
was always there. "I am a doctor. I have given
an oath to heal, not to destroy."
exhaled, felt tension flood out and exhaustion replace
it. He lowered his head, shaking it. "Aye. We are
all just doing our job. I kill, he breaks, you mend.
It can be simple."
will you do when you retire from active duty? Which
side will you be on, Mr Krasnorada?" The doctor
I retire ... all I want is to be able to read again.
I want to go to New Zealand, and read. I want good,
fresh food, and I want to learn about wine and go hunting.
I want to sleep without screaming. I don't want to wear
camo again, unless I'm painting a wall or moving furniture."
if I can be of any help to achieve this, I will be there
distracting him away from Konstantinov. Vadim knew the
man guided him, but didn't feel manipulated. Saner to
think about what he wanted rather than about killing
Konstantinov. "Thank you. I will think about it
... if things get worse ... I'll be in touch."
hope so." Dr Williams smiled, then sat back. "For
now, what do you say about a physical exam? I'd like
to check on the scar tissue, if you don't mind. Also,
while you are both here, is there anything that Mr McFadyen
might need seeing to?"
in pretty good shape", said Vadim, but already
lifted the jumper he wore, stripping his upper body.
Remembering, too late the slight bruising he'd received
from the biting and kissing on the weekend, and froze.
Again that response, again the feeling of having to
hide, but that was a reflex. The doctor likely had seen
far worse, and indeed, there was no reaction from him.
Vadim stood to present the scars on his back. "Dan's
knees are giving him trouble. Maybe have a look at them."
will, if you can get him into the surgery."
the real challenge. Dan always thinks he's just fine.
But I'll mention it."
doctor stood up with a light chuckle, checking over
Vadim's scars and nodding to himself, seemingly satisfied.
"You must have been doing very well with the cream.
The tissue is much better than it was last time."
grinned. "Well ... I get more massages out of it.
Which is nice."
Williams let out a sound which sounded suspiciously
close to an amused snort. "Any other trouble?"
getting older. A twinge in the back here, taking more
time to heal there, some aches, but nothing painful.
I'm just not thirty anymore."
me, it won't get better."
slipped back into his jumper. "Thank you, doctor."
Williams walked over to the sink to wash his hands.
"Would you care to join me tonight in the Officer's
Mess? The food is not too bad, and the wine is quite
there's an alternative good restaurant outside camp
that we could drag you to - yes. But there weren't any
that caught my sight on the way in."
indeed, the Mess is the most reliable place, I'm afraid.
It is more or less my home - as much as anyone could
call this a home - and it might be of interest to you
to see the differences between a Soviet and a British
guess less vodka on the table." Vadim grinned.
"No, my pleasure. I do miss some of the privileges,
sometimes." The last word being the lie. He missed
it, period. Responsibility, power, and privilege. All
gone, just like the medals.
yes, but you wouldn't have the freedom that you have
now." Dr Williams put the towel away. "Living
with your partner, for example. That must be worth losing
some of the privileges for."
Vadim smiled. "It's insulting that they think I'd
be less of a soldier or less of an officer just because
I happen to be homosexual. But the blockheads won't
learn, and that means being a merc is the only thing
I can do without having to hide - either from disciplinary
action or getting thrown out."
is no different here, but as a medical doctor I know
that the human nature comes in many variations."
Readjusting his specs, the doctor guided Vadim towards
the door. "And in that vein, if you could get your
partner here to let me check those knees of his, and
the scar tissue
. Not only would I be much obliged,
but I believe that a mutual friend of ours would be
very relieved as well."
grinned. "I'll see if I can find him - and I'll
send him in. And if you talk to her next, please give
her my best greetings."
headed out, looked around, walked towards the car and
saw Dan smoking near it, scarred hand pushed deep inside
his pocket, looking strangely defiant.
live", Vadim stated. "But the doctor insists
on checking on you."
Blowing smoke away from Vadim, Dan's eyes narrowed beneath
the shades. Long hair, t-shirt without collar, shades
and fag, and right in front of the Officer's Mess.
a certain lady tasked him to make sure you're alright."
not again!" Dan rolled his eyes, but it
was clear as mud that he'd comply with her wishes.
Checked on my scars, too. How you been?"
along to the transit accom. Fuckwits. Nothing's changed."
do you expect? I look like a scumbag, apparently, and
I got treated like one. Oh to be a civilian, aye? At
least I can tell them to stuff their fucking berets
up their hoops."
grinned, but turned serious very soon. "Fuck them.
If they want to cause trouble, trouble they can have."
Glancing over to the building.
and I told them what I thought of them, and that I'd
still take three of them on at the same time."
Dan threw the cigarette onto the ground. "Can we
you see the doctor, and then we're invited to the Officer's
mess for food. I promise we'll leave as early tomorrow
as we can get out of bed, okay?"
You want me to go to the Mess? With those fuckwits?
Just because the SAS doesn't hand out ranks like smarties,
they think they're better than me."
said it yourself - you can tell them just what they
can do with their ranks." Vadim stepped close,
both hands on Dan's shoulders. "Listen, if they
give you any trouble, they'll pay."
not quite like that here." Dan frowned, but shrugged
a moment later. "You really want me to go see the
doc and have dinner. Aye?"
He's a great man. I don't think they'll give us any
trouble when he's there. And he invited us to dinner,
it would be rude not to go."
yeah, yeah. You and your bloody behaviour." Dan
sighed, resigned to his fate, though. Just like he'd
always been resigned to whatever Maggie got him to do.
"But I want a shag tonight. On those goddamned
narrow bunk beds, or maybe they are a bit wider if you're
an officer." Dan almost spit the word out.
"Whatever it is, I want to fuck you, right here
in camp, and I want to suck you. No, you know what?
I actually want you to fuck me. Right here. Shit,
yes, right here in camp."
swallowed, part of him glad Dan had changed his mind,
because he could still feel 'the weekend' and its echoes.
He glanced around. "That gives me something to
think about during dinner." He drew Dan into a
buddy-kind of embrace, slapped him on the back, and
murmured into his ear. "I did enjoy the show ...
and everything else, with those two guys."
but don't you remind me of that right now or the doc
is going to get to see more than he bargained for."
gave a short laugh. "I'll remind you later, then.
With better timing."
wants to see me right now?"
Should I wait here?"
pointed with his thumb over his shoulder. "The
Mess and the transit accom are over there. If you want
to, you can throw the bags into the room, there'll be
someone to show you."
idea. I should still be able to remember how to prepare
a bed military-style. Hasn't been that long." Vadim
patted Dan's neck, another buddy-gesture, and turned
to the car, getting the bags out and heading into accom.
They both had day packs, one of those habits to only
pack what they'd actually need and carry that in a smaller
bag, whereas the bigger luggage stayed inside the car
was greeted by Dr Williams in the doorframe, and despite
his reluctance to get checked out, the encounter was
fairly pleasant, and friendly in its professionalism.
He was berated for the state of his scars, told that
if his partner could take better care of his own so
could he, which caused Dan to grimace. His knees produced
some noncommittal sounds from the doctor, with the urgent
recommendation to check them out properly, including
x-rays and consultations, an advice that Dan was going
to studiously ignore.
sat down for a moment, but Dr Williams never spoke about
Vadim. Impossible for a doctor, sworn under the Hippocratic
oath. In the end Dan left armed with a tube of cream,
and the addresses of orthopaedic specialists, which
he crumpled into a ball and stuffed into his pocket
the moment he left the centre, making his way to the
had been led into one of the guest rooms - which the
soldier had referred to as 'family' room. It became
soon obvious why: there was a double bed - which apparently
was all it took to get anything branded as 'family',
the possibility to have sex or cuddle up without being
on top of each other. Cheap-looking historical prints
that, at first glance, appeared to come straight from
a 1970s interior decorator's idea of a Victorian war-hero's
parlour. A small bathroom was connected to the room,
a small shower that would just about accommodate one
set the daypacks down, unpacked, then prepared the double
bed, smiling vaguely to himself. But the smile froze
when Konstantinov returned to his mind. Vladimir. If
there was any way to face him again, any possibility
to cut the bastard's throat, to beat him into a pulp,
break his neck - there were many possible deaths, and
none seemed slow and satisfying enough.
knocked onto the door before entering. "That doc
of yours is an ankle biter." He groused as he looked
around the room in surprise.
he? Just because he's insistent that you should take
care of yourself?"
but at least he's giving me a good excuse to get you
to massage my scars." Dan waggled his brows, "especially
the ones down there." Pointing to his groin while
flopping onto the freshly made bed.
always thought it was a great pick-up line: Want to
oil my scars?" Vadim stood there, crossing his
arms, seeing Dan stretched out on the bed. "Well,
and at least it's a double. I was wondering why the
soldier looked at me strange when he led me here. This
is clearly for the 'gay family'."
laughed, "I honestly don't think the chap even
thought that far. It's a no-no, remember, not allowed.
Keep schtumm." Zipping his mouth shut with his
fingers, "zilch." He shrugged, "not that
I have any idea what he would have thought instead,
and frankly, I don't give a shit."
he didn't walk away with his back to the wall, so I
suppose he didn't connect the dots."
that." Dan sniggered, "I always wanted to
fuck an Officer, but I guess ..." he pointed at
Vadim, "I already have, aye? Just not a Brit."
laughed, with a hint of tension entering his body, but
of the good kind. "Even a Major. These days, it's
just an ex-Major, but still. Funny. I did have fantasies
about getting fucked by a few of my men. I mean, about
a few of them, not ... oh dear." He shook his head
when Dan burst into laughter. "That's not
what I was saying. Or thinking. But there were a few
pretty attractive guys that I worked with. Shame I had
to fight it. There was a Tajik once, he almost got me
to the point to yield. The bastard was a fantastic wrestler."
no Russian gang-bang? Damn, that."
with the officer at the bottom of the pile." Vadim
shook his head. "I'd have been dead. That's not
discipline as we kept it."
sniggering, Dan spread out on the bed as if it belonged
to him alone. "And that Tajik ... tell me about
his technique. Seems I can learn something from that
guy, if he almost got you to give up your precious arse,
back in the day."
was Spetsnaz, too. One of the really tough guys, worked
mostly as a scout, great infiltrator, too. Hard as nails.
Wrestling is some kind of national sport there - and
I was stupid enough to try and compete with him. After
a long, drawn-out match, he pretty much sat down on
me, and I was aching in a thousand places and tired,
and I guess I gave up for a few heartbeats. He saw that.
I saw that he saw. And that he knew what that meant.
That was when we were getting ready to cross the border
into Afghanistan. Plenty of time, unrest, we were all
itching to go, and one early morning - two hours or
so before wake up, the guy showed up in my room. I did
want him, and I'm pretty sure he saw right through me.
And I kept thinking, fuck, you're Russian, he's a Tajik
... I don't think I'm racist, but just what anybody
would think if it did come out. There was another
wrestling match, and he was accidentally very close,
and I was accidentally working to shake him off. We
both acted as if we weren't hard, and as if we didn't
cum, working against each other. I was aching for days,
" Dan was sitting up by now, eyes on Vadim,
with that certain expression which read no more than
three letters. "Fuck, now I'm horny."
me too." Vadim glanced at the door, then headed
over and locked it. The memory had done it. The man's
fantastic, hard, agile body, who controlled him, who
flipped him over on his stomach, and could easily have
fucked him. All levers, all control. Face unreadable
in the pre-dawn gloom, dark hair, light eyes, slightly
slitted, but relatively pale.
once, Dan looked Vadim slowly up and down. "I don't
think we did ever wrestle, did we? But then I'm no Tajik,
whatever that means." He winked.
an ethnic group, north of Afghanistan. Some of the warlords
were Tajik. Some worked for us, some for the enemy,
but then, they were still brothers and spoke each other's
fuck, of course, I forgot." Dan was pulling the
t-shirt off over his head. Always ready.
important ..." Vadim came back to the bed. "We
should have enough time before dinner?"
who wins." Grinning, Dan opened his jeans, then
lifted his hips off the bed to slide them down.
pulled his jumper over his head, shed the shoes, then
pushed his trousers down, dumping the whole lot on one
of the chairs, while Dan got his shoes off, throwing
the jeans onto the floor. Vadim got onto the bed, on
his knees, facing Dan. Feeling slightly awkward and
exposed, but horny - he couldn't remember the man's
name, just that silent fighting, not-fighting, that
understanding that sex was impossible, but finding a
way around it.
" Dan murmured, "first things first
" Coming up, his arms wrapped around Vadim's
shoulders and his legs twisted to kick the balance from
under Vadim. "Wrestling
" gasped out,
half strained, half laughing, "on the bed
is crap!" Intent on throwing both of them onto
the floor. Vadim responded, falling, head slightly banged
against the floor as he hit the ground first, with Dan's
weight on top. Good feeling, Dan's thigh against his
cock, which made him want to lose, almost immediately.
But he owed Dan a run for his money, so hooked his leg
across Dan's, made sure he didn't put too much strain
on the knee, and tried to roll over.
with concentration, Dan was lighter than Vadim, and
he almost lost, already half on his back, when he managed
to slip one leg between Vadim's, applying pressure with
his thigh. Distraction, using every dirty trick in the
book, and giving as good as he got.
groaned, hand came to Dan's ass, pulling him closer,
the other going to his cock, to line him up with his
own, pushing against him, any thought of combat was
gone, had only been an excuse anyway. His body reacted
too well, too easily to Dan, another reflex. Floor hard
but even, the worst that would happen was carpet burn.
was becoming breathless, exerted all his strength. Muscles
hard beneath his skin, trying to flip them back over,
with him on top. Vadim resisted, but loved the coiling
muscles, knew he'd had an advantage, he had more technique,
was heavier and stronger, but he didn't want to press
for that advantage, instead went with the motion. Controlling
Dan's hands and arms, legs straining against legs, working
with levers and angles, but above all, they were stomach
to stomach and cock to cock, which made Vadim groan
again, shoulders to the ground, Dan on top. He smelled
the carpet, came up with his head to bite and suck on
growled into the vicious kiss, hips grinding, pushing
down. Straining to stay on top. Sweat between their
bodies made each movement increasingly slippery, unable
to get a grip, and Dan lost himself in the feeling of
cock against cock. Speeding up the movements of his
hips, and slamming down with all his strength and an
released his arms, pressing Dan closer, every push met
with a push from him. Breathlessly grinding, much like
back in Afghanistan, only without giving no quarters,
and more knowledge, more fucking love; he pressed up
hard, Dan's harsh thrusts got him over the edge, and
he held Dan, clung to him, fingers digging into his
ass and back, while Dan kept thrusting down. Needing
longer to get himself over, and finally cumming, while
biting into Vadim's shoulder.
the next second, still holding, embracing, and rolling
to the side, Dan took Vadim with him until they lay
face to face, panting.
Dan brought out, "you'll be the death of me in
my old age." Burying his face into the crook of
Vadim's sweaty neck.
grinned, fingers in Dan's thick hair. "You started
It was you who had to tell me about Tajiks, wrestling,
and wanting to - possibly - get fucked."
maybe I did start it ..."
groaned, stretching his legs. "Hmmm
have a couple more hours before dinner, want to go running
and hit the gym, if they let us?"
shower. We don't have to hit the racing track while
being ... well." Vadim slowly disentangled himself,
then offered a hand to Dan, pulling him up. "You
can shower first. Who knows, we might meet the rubber
man. Smudge. The guy 'beasted' me."
Before training? Where's the point in that?"
Stretching properly once he stood, Dan looked down at
himself and grimaced. "Okay, get it. Sticky."
He grinned, "give me a couple minutes, can you
dig out the sports kit in the meantime? And I wouldn't
mind meeting your PTI, those guys are near indestructible."
he was quite annoying. Bastard." Vadim wiped himself
down and dug out the sports kit, laying it out for Dan
and himself, listening to the water.
took hardly more than two minutes, coming back out,
still partially wet and hair more or less dripping.
"They made that bathroom for midgets. Still, those
officer bitches should be thankful for the privacy,
we used to have to walk along the hallway to the communal
loos and showers." Rolling his eyes, Dan slipped
shorts and t-shirt on, then sat down for the socks and
grinned. "Well, it's a small mercy in our state."
He headed into the shower, took a luxurious seven minutes,
while Dan smoked a fag out of the open window, watching
Vadim put the sports kit on and tie his laces.
do realise that we've never done this?" Dan stood,
musing, surprise on his face.
together." Making a sweeping but economic gesture
across the room and their kit. "This normality.
Running. Something as stupid as this." He shrugged,
"wonder why we never did."
shook his head. "No idea. But it feels damn nice,
doesn't it?" Normal life. The kind of thing other
people had. Building habits, routines. No more strange,
weird, extraordinary stuff, a perfectly regular life.
Or as regular as it got for mercs.
even though I'd get bored to death after a couple of
months." Dan winked and opened the door, but not
before they'd both clipped their visitor passes on.
is not for entertainment. It's meant to be boring. Interesting
runs happen near minefields ..."
didn't mean the running." Dan laughed. "Anyway,
never asked you," walking along the corridor towards
the staircase, "what kind of runner are you?"
options are there?"
sprinter, plodder and juggernaut." Dan laughed
at the latter, as they stepped outside.
on how much ground I have to cover ... somewhere between
racer and juggernaut. Unless I don't get what you mean."
They left the building and Vadim took the lead, remembering
well the site of his suffering and humiliation - but
now fondly remembered like any other training site he
knew like the back of his hand.
followed, falling into a comfortable trot beside Vadim.
"I've never been much of a sprinter, guess I'm
more of a long-distance plodder." He grinned while
feeling the movements come together, like slipping into
a comfortable old shirt. He quickly found his favourite
speed, with Vadim trotting in the same rhythm next to
him. Impossible to say who took whose rhythm, or whether
their bodies just agreed on a compromise.
a bit slow for the sprinting and too heavy for long
distance stuff", said Vadim, breathing deeply,
relaxed, chest open, all limbs just moving. No racing
involved, speed mostly steady, not incredibly fast,
but they were still warming up.
remember having to race for Maggie's life, and hell,
did that feel like slow motion." They were passing
along the edge of the parade square, towards the singlies
blocks of the other ranks.
the worst run of my life." Picking up speed gently,
now that their muscles were beginning to warm up. "Seemed
for a while to be my last one as well." They were
passing along rows of buildings, all the same. The place
seemed deserted. It wasn't knocking off time yet.
lost it so bad when I heard about it", murmured
Vadim, lengthening his strides, too. "Somebody
cracked a stupid joke about it, and I went at him like
a tiger." Vadim laughed. "Or mountain lion.
Scared a bunch of green junior officers witless."
you? You never told me." Talking easily while comfortably
falling into a faster stride that accommodated both
their styles, set to keep running for a long time. "Shit,
we never talked about any of it. How did you find out
in the first place?"
came in from an exercise, if I remember correctly, and
one of the lieutenants told me that a turkey'd been
blown up. Something to the effect of "suits him
right", and "a good start" or something,
and I just exploded. I was still high on adrenaline.
I eventually just walked into the embassy and demanded
to know where you were. The Baroness probably didn't
believe for an instant it was because I 'owed' you.
But it was the only thing I could do. Got my old comrade
Lesha to cover for me ... wonder what he's doing now
... he was a good friend, back from basic training ...
made him believe I was clearing up my heroine addiction
... well, and you know the rest of the story. I suppose
that was when I ... kind of switched sides ..."
shit." Dan glanced to the side while they were
crossing a road, running towards the guard house, which
promised more open space once they'd left the compound.
"There's a hell of a lot of 'story' in those few
words, aye? You got to tell me all the nitty gritty
over some booze."
isn't really that much more to tell", said Vadim.
"But I'll tell you the extended version at some
point. It certainly was a few interesting weeks, that's
wish you'd properly switched sides back then, but fuck,
we couldn't have known."
don't have many regrets, but ... that's one."
was starting to feel the comfortable sensation of his
body working like a well-oiled machine, honed muscles
and strength, while ignoring the twinge in his knees.
"No point in regretting anything. If I could, I'd
go back and kill a few people to avoid some serious
shit, but it's impossible." He smiled, taking in
air in deep breaths, feeling the power of his body and
the exhilaration of movement.
gave a nod in silence and focussed on the flow of his
breath. Expanding his chest and breathing deeply, calmly
through his nose and allowing the breath to flow in
and out naturally.
continued to run, picking up pace when the second wind
kicked in, both men harmonising their steps, as they
went on for mile after mile, until Dan steered them
towards the camp and back to the Officer's Mess. He
could feel his knees, increasingly, like he always did
after running or too much marching, but the pleasant
exhaustion was worth it, and the joy of doing something
as ordinary as running side by side with Vadim. Ordinary,
normal. Just two guys - partners.
dining hall in the Officer's Mess was as overly laden
with Victorian silver and sculptures as he had expected,
mirroring the Mess in Hereford, which Dan dimly remembered
from Christmas drinks, when the Officers had 'lowered'
themselves to invite the senior NCOs to a posh piss-up
in their own bar.
was uncomfortable in the surroundings at first, but
Dr Williams, in his calm way, reminded him enough of
the Baroness to put him at ease. Being reminded of the
days in the embassy when he had stood amongst the mighty
and rich, while trying to blend in, never realising
how much of an elegant figure he'd cut in the tailor
made suits that hid the bulge of his pistol.
meal was excellent, nothing to fault, but he remained
quiet throughout the evening, while the doctor and Vadim
were talking. Chatting about a whole range of topics,
from art to music to historic battles, where Vadim seemed
surprised the Doctor was aware of the finer points of
the so-called Winter War between Finland and the Soviet
Union. The Doctor in turn talking of matters such as
the training of the historical Red Coats, both men perfectly
at ease jumping from topic to topic. From military history
to current politics, always polite and with a dash of
humour. The Doctor tempered by age, and Vadim tempered
by a profound disillusionment. Dan, though, was tempered
by nothing, and thus he tucked into the wine until the
doctor mercifully asked if he'd prefer a beer, and then
supping his pints, listening with half an ear in on
the conversation that often went over his head.
politely stayed for a long time at the table, until
he finally made his excuses and ventured to the bar,
where, as a civilian guest on a normal day and not a
function, he could go and buy his own drinks. He soon
got into conversation with some of the guys, and found
- somewhat to his surprise - that not all Officers were
pompous arses, but quite a few had made it up the ranks.
Immediately engaged in discussions about battle tactics,
hand to hand combat, training and SAS fighting styles
compared to Marines, and a thousand other things. Ending
amongst laughter and pints, topped up with whiskies,
all of them bought for him, while he told some of the
tall tales of his past and present. Every now and then,
Vadim's eyes flickered over to him, and a smile would
curve Vadim's lips. It was Mad Dog who'd found his stride
- yet again.
was nearly 3 AM when the last ones were flagging and
even Dan struggled to suppress a yawn, as he glanced
over to the table. Vadim took the hint and stood, smiling,
after making some excuse or other, about the fact that
he was still used to military time keeping. He was sad
the evening was over, but was relaxed and at ease after
a truly great conversation with a man who knew the deep
dark places of his mind and soul and yet neither shied
back nor chided him, and he realized with a bit of shock
that he was deeply fond of the man. Even though Dr Williams
was too young to be his father, the feeling remained
that it would have been good to have a father like that,
and not the twisted or the powerless or the sad or the
disapproving men that had taken that role in his life.
too, excused himself, walking over to the table, he
shook the doctor's hand. Looking at him for a moment
too long, studying the man as if asking questions he
didn't dare ask, but perhaps the booze was to blame
for wanting to know how he could stop the nightmares.
but no such thing, and he smiled, the world
mellowed by the free whisky. His hand went between Vadim's
shoulder blades, a short touch, nothing but best mates,
comfortable in each other's presence - unless one knew
took the Doctor's hand with both his hands and gave
him one of those rare smiles, the true 'farewell' while
the words were polite and friendly.
went back to the room they shared, sleeping entwined,
while no one in the Mess was none the wiser, no one
asked questions, and none of the soldiers cared.