1992, Berlin, Germany
kept slipping a finger beneath the neck brace, either
to ease the fit or to scratch underneath, until he muttered
something to himself and controlled his response, sitting
quietly in his seat and staring straight ahead - since
he had no chance of looking anywhere else.
okay with that?" asked Vadim, glancing at him.
He'd been looking out over the countryside that was
rushing past, and slipped deep into thought. About them.
About what he'd told Hooch. And why. And how he expected
Hooch to react to it. Most of all, why. What had he
felt he could, maybe should tell him.
than the alternative." Hooch quirked a half-grin,
his swollen eye opened a slit and the white was blood-shot.
smiled. "Yeah." He wanted to say more, but
there was somebody on the seat across the aisle, and
he didn't want to embarrass Hooch. Or himself. "Just
a few more minutes."
nodded, the movement awkward. "How are they going
to fit my neck size?"
don't know your size? Well
then, maybe, very
leaned forward, lowered his voice, "have a sales
assistant measure my strangulated neck?"
they should be able to do that without hurting your
whiplashed back more
" Vadim heard the announcement
for the Berlin station, and got up, offering a hand
to Hooch, who looked up with surprise, but took the
hand and allowed himself to be pulled up.
remained standing there, touching Hooch's body for a
long moment, almost the full length of it, then stepped
to the side, allowing Hooch to get to the door, then
they got a taxi, and the taxi driver, after a short
conversation, took them to the main shopping area of
the city, which had plenty of shops to buy a decent
suit in. Vadim glanced around. "Dan hates shopping
it's odd to think that after five minutes, you
won't start to fidget around and tell me you're bored."
Giving Hooch a bright smile.
smile was answered with a long, measured look, and with
the ghost of a smile. "But I'm not Dan." Hooch
let the words hang in the air, and turned towards a
department store that looked rather posh.
you're not." Vadim walked beside him until he noticed
Hooch was heading into the store. "I think that
way", he murmured, taking Hooch's arm and guiding
him along the street. It would probably pay to see a
specialist, and he spotted one that seemed nice and
friendly inside, as well as calm, and, judging by the
price tags, pretty much what they were looking for.
"That's odd, but nice." Vadim grinned at the
deliberate double meaning. Odd, but nice to spend time
with Hooch instead of Dan. He was walking a touch too
close to Hooch for it to be neutral distance.
know the shop?" Hooch shifted slightly to the side,
a fraction away from Vadim, as they steered towards
But looks alright." Vadim opened the door, and
noticed that some guy in a nice suit in the back looked
up, made eye contact and drew closer. Offering help
without being pushy.
walked up to the man, looking him once over before visibly
relaxing. "You speak English?" He even gave
a small smile. "I need a suit, or two."
shop assistant was young, early to mid-twenties, short,
dirty blond hair, and he had a good smile, Vadim thought,
when he answered. "Yes, Sir, of course. Do you
have a particular
Hooch shrugged, "smart and dark, one for special
course, Sir." The shop assistant glanced down Hooch,
assessing him quickly and politely, Vadim thought, then
ushered him towards the back. "It really depends
on the material", he explained, chatting about
brands and gauging which price range was the one Hooch
felt comfortable with, who nodded a few times, before
he made clear that he really didn't mind the price tag,
as long as the suit was as smart as possible and would
make him look good in a sea of boring suits, back home.
This cheered the shop assistant on to further efforts
- he was likely paid a bonus.
pulled a chair closer and sat down, watching the interplay,
while the young guy chose a few suits. Narrowing it
down to about five, he placed them strategically around
Hooch, who looked at each of them, taking his time to
feel the fabric. Finally pointing at a black one and
a charcoal one. He turned around fully to face Vadim,
"what do you think?"
waved his hand. "I'd say, put them on. And get
some shirts with it."
Hooch turned back to the assistant, pointing at his
neck. "Can't remember European sizes, need a couple
of ties, too." He added, when the sales assistant
frowned at the bulky neck brace, "was in a car
accident." Raising his brows, or one brow, rather.
The other not very movable in the beat-up face.
sorry to hear, Sir." The shop assistant reached
for a tape measure he wore in his pocket. "If you
will allow, I'll see if I can measure it?" Stepping
closer, smooth motions, very professional, and sliding
the tape measure around Hooch's neck, who managed to
stand still, despite the sudden urge to hit the guy.
The young man gently checked that the tape measure had
slipped under the brace, straightened it, then leaned
back a bit and fiddled with the tape measure, checking
and fiddling, standing close. He either was very professional
or fully unaware.
got it yet?" Hooch's voice was quiet as not to
disturb that goddamned tape measure, "or want me
to bend over?" A sudden devil-may-care attitude
came over him.
shop assistant flushed, and the way he removed the tape
measure again didn't seem quite as professional now.
erm, is all. Are you looking for a
loose or a somewhat tighter fit?"
couldn't help it, he had to laugh, the words just invited
being read entirely wrong. "I'd say, tight",
tight." Hooch dead-panned.
shop assistant seemed a bit flustered still, but pointed
Hooch towards a shelf with shirts. "I would recommend
these. It depends what kind of sleeve you want, Sir,
and of course the colour."
to go with the dark suits." Pointing once again
to the black and the charcoal ones. "Make me look
like James Bond."
shop assistant looked at Hooch, eyes wide, rabbit and
snake and all that, then needed a full three seconds
before he remembered what he was supposed to be doing,
and quickly moved to the shelf, selecting a number of
shirts, checking their sizes and makes. "You may
want to try these on", he said, wrestling
with professionalism, which, Vadim thought, was incredibly
endearing. Hooch could have that guy, he was perfectly
ready to do whatever Hooch might ask of him.
Hooch indicated a nod. He took the black suit and the
stack of shirts, vanishing in the changing room. A while
later, he re-emerged. The collar of the shirt was open,
allowing the brace room. The suit was okay, but merely
okay, it didn't move along the lines of his body as
it should. "Not tight enough."
shop assistant fought to keep an even face, not looking
at Hooch's eyes directly, trying very hard to focus.
there's a different brand. Please. I'll
go and find a different cut."
smiled when the young guy rushed off, and got up. He
leaned in to murmur into Hooch's ear. "An artist
at work. This guy an opportunity, Hooch?"
raised a brow. "Could be. Too knocked up, though."
He turned fully so he could face Vadim. Standing too
close for mere buddies. "I have a deal to offer
you. He's not part of it."
Whatever it is, I take it."
let out a faint snort, turning all the way back round
again when the eager sales assistant appeared with another
try that one." Hooch conceded and vanished once
more in the changing room, from where he called out
a while later, "can someone help?"
shop assistant looked at Vadim, not sure what to do,
and Vadim joined Hooch in the changing room.
Hooch commented dryly. "Defeated by fucking buttons."
in the nicest way possible", murmured Vadim, closing
the shirt buttons for him, enjoying the warm skin under
his fingers. "Much better. You shouldn't gain any
weight, and this will be really nice."
chance to gain anything on my next mission, except for
parasites and sunburn."
there's that." Closing the last one, then reaching
for the jacket, Vadim helped Hooch into it, stepping
behind him to look into the mirror.
turned around and looked at himself. "Better."
He announced, then stepped out of the changing room
to where the sales assistant was waiting. "What
you think?" The suit was sharply cut, the material
exquisite, and it moved along the hard lines of Hooch's
body in all the right ways.
was clearly made for you, Sir." The young man's
hands were closed, almost fists, betraying the tension.
But if he was seeking control, he had already lost,
as he was up against Hooch. "Will it be anything
Hooch quirked the brow of his good eye, "I want
a black one for special occasions." Stepping closer
to the shop assistant. "Really special. You get
three seconds before the shop assistant managed to do
so much as blink at Hooch. Vadim assumed that his nerves
were extremely slow-firing, three seconds was excessive,
but he was a civilian, after all. "Of course, Sir."
Heading off to bring a black suit of the same make,
and laying it out for Hooch. Eyes on the suit, not on
buddy." Hooch returned to the changing room, on
his own for a while, before he called out for help once
more. "Getting stuck here
" When rescue
came, he was standing in little more than a pair of
briefs, trousers caught around his ankles, and unable
to see what he was doing when he bent over, his head
held up too high. Vadim bit down hard on the grin, but
he dressed Hooch, trousers, shirt, then jacket, smoothing
the cloth over Hooch's frame. "I did mention what
suits make me want to do
I did mention the deal, didn't I?" Hooch turned
to face Vadim.
me want to get some of those, too." Vadim grinned.
do for a wedding?" Hooch cocked the good brow.
Who's getting married?" It slipped out, but on
the other hand, they'd entered a stage where asking
personal questions wasn't as bad. Not that Hooch couldn't
still brush him off.
me." Hooch suddenly flashed a grin that almost
split his face. Entirely uncharacteristic and unexpected.
I'm sick of wearing uniform." Hooch took a step
back, turning slowly, then walking out of the changing
room to allow the sales assistant to get an eyeful,
too, who flattered him, stating it was a good fit, certainly
a good look, Sir, and whether he could do anything
else for him.
buddy wants a suit, too." Turning around, Hooch
glanced at Vadim, before he retreated back into the
changing room to take the suit off and to look over
a range of shoes the assistant had brought.
got the tour of the shop again, looking at brands and
the shop assistant seemed to find some of his confidence
back when Vadim indicated that, yes, price wasn't what
he was going for, and that they could speak German,
something which seemed to surprise the young man. Vadim
quickly decided which make he wanted and knew the size
of his neck, of course. It didn't take long until he'd
found a very dark blue suit that he liked, and a grey
pinstripe that seemed serious, but fitted him very nicely.
He spent more time on finding the shirts, and the ties,
adding a little pile of cufflink boxes to that.
had gone outside to smoke a cigarette, then came back
and sat down on one of the chairs, occasionally glancing
up and otherwise flicking through a couple of magazines,
which clearly did not catch his interest. He didn't
look bored, though, instead blessed with infinite patience,
as he sat as comfortably as he could, good eye half-closed.
Dozing lightly while waiting for Vadim, who got his
attention when he held a pair of cufflinks under his
nose. Black obsidian, simple but polished to a gleam.
telling me I should buy those?"
I'm asking whether you'd wear them if I got them for
and longer lasting than roses." Hooch let out a
dry huff of laughter. "Thanks."
chuckled. "I don't do roses", he said,
mimicking Hooch's way of saying that, then indicated
for the shop assistant to start wrapping and bagging
and running the totals for both piles.
stood at the counter, not even blinking when it came
to paying the considerable sum, using a credit card
that was gladly accepted by the sales assistant, who
looked equally disappointed and glad to see them leave.
A notion that Hooch ignored, like most things that were
not of direct interest to him. Waiting for Vadim to
pay his pile and get hold of his own assortment of bags,
Hooch turned fully towards the assistant. "Where's
the nearest public phone?"
down the street. Turn left", the shop assistant
said, opening the door for them.
nodded his thanks and they were back on the street.
"I was wrong. You also got a healthy sadistic streak."
had to turn round fully to glance at Vadim, once again
the good brow quirked up. "Do I?" He made
a passable go at an utterly innocent and surprised look.
laughed. "Yeah. Never mind. Takes one to find one."
He briefly placed his hand on Hooch's shoulder, to direct
him to the phone he'd spotted, but also to touch him.
made a movement as if he were about to glance at the
hand, but it was aborted, because it would have been
impossible anyway. "Give me a moment." With
that he was off to the public phone. Inside, he was
looking through the phone book, then fished for change
and made a call. All in all it took no longer than ten
minutes before he came back out.
We need to be back in town at seven for dinner."
idea." Vadim checked the time, slightly amused
at Hooch's quick and efficient way to deal with anything.
No-nonsense, and at the same time very considerate.
"That's plenty of time. We could lock in the bags
in the train station, and have a look what we can find
in the toy shop."
indicated a stiff nod. "Figure we need a more specialised
shop." Heading off into the direction of the train
station. He was walking through Berlin as if he knew
the place, even though he was only there for the second
time. Orientation skills honed to perfection, particularly
in an urban environment.
followed, not surprised when Hooch had the train station
located just a bit later. Once they'd locked in the
bags, he looked at Hooch. "Any idea where to find
the specialist? I guess you could sweet-talk the shop
assistant in that other shop to give you the details
of the competition."
makes you think I could sweet-talk her?" An amused
gleam became visible in Hooch's eye, "appealing
to her sympathy for the poor invalid who had a 'car
accident' in between buying more sex toys?" The
amusement became more evident.
Let's do another shop." Vadim really didn't want
to be seen as the one who'd fucked Hooch up like that.
"Don't want any accusing looks."
shrugged and grinned, heading towards a set of dingy
looking side streets, having a knack for picking up
the atmosphere of places. He was right, because it became
obvious after a moment that they'd landed in the red
don't like advertising what I do in the bedroom",
Vadim murmured, glancing around.
Walking along the road and the windows that advertised
the 'wares', Hooch had an uncanny ability to be left
alone by doormen who tried to drag punters in, while
at the same time avoiding to be hassled. Strangely blending
in without appearing invisible, a presence that was
oddly forbidding, and with him Vadim, in association.
They made it to the end of the street, and found in
a corner what they had been looking for. A shop whose
window displayed every bit of kinky gear imaginable.
generation, clearly." Vadim took a deep breath
and entered the shop. The first thing he noticed was
a smell of leather, silicone and plastics. While his
eyes adjusted to the gloom inside, he could make out
that at least half the shop was about clothes, but crammed
in every space imaginable was a lot of 'gear': gags,
dildos, lots of steel and leather. "Okay",
about that: you choose, I pay."
stepped closer to some of the stuff and looked at it,
figuring out what to do with it. Some was labelled,
some had photos and left nothing to the imagination.
Other stuff he could guess - other pieces were completely
alien. He found things he wanted to try, though. Nipple
clamps. He wanted to find out whether Hooch's were as
sensitive as his. A more solid-looking blindfold next,
larger than the flimsy thing they had. What else? There
were more ropes, but Vadim thought of the state of Hooch's
wrists and went for wrist and ankle cuffs, again fairly
solid-feeling, heavy, and padded. Remembering the guys
from Glasgow, he added cockrings, curious what they'd
feel like and what Hooch would think of them. And there
were chains that could connect the cuffs and various
other pieces, placing them onto the counter, and feeling
strange about it.
didn't look at the pile of toys, deliberately so, leaned
closer to the sales person instead. "I'll pay.
Just pack the things up. Got a couple more things to
add." The shop assistant nodded, started to tally
up the count, that was quite hefty - supply and demand.
Hooch went back along the rows and picked up a whip
with a flat end. Sturdy and flexible, then lingering
no more than a second over an implement of leather,
steel and chains, with weights attached. The picture
left nothing to the imagination how this should be used,
with the weights hanging from the parachute and pulling
down the scrotum. He remembered vaguely that something
like that had been used on him, but the memory of the
encounter had become a blur of pain and need. He was
curious, but not this time. There'd be opportunities
for another encounter, he figured. Placing the whip
onto the counter beside the packed bag, he turned fully
to glance at Vadim with a half-cocked smile. "All?"
looked at the whip. "From my end." Okay. He'd
try that out. Hooch clearly meant to be at the receiving
end. "It's your body."
not when I'm prisoner." Hooch turned back to the
sales assistant and paid for his purchases, in cash
this time, with a stash he kept in the back of his wallet.
Clearly, he had a fairly good idea of what should and
what shouldn't show up on his credit card bill. Besides,
the shop wasn't the type that accepted plastic. "Get
kebab at the station?" He'd spotted the place even
though it had been out of the way.
I'll pay the food." The bill was fairly awe-inspiring,
Vadim thought, especially after he'd seen the clothes
he could get for a similar amount. Heading out, he again
just followed Hooch. "What's the offer - or deal
tell you over dinner." Hooch grinned the customary
half-grin, then headed off towards the kebab place,
where they got doners with garlic sauce and chillies,
before taking the bags out of storage and making their
way once more back to Potsdam and the bungalow. Hooch
- all the way - being in a rare mood, which could almost
be described as sunny, except that Vadim knew it had
to be anticipation.
they got back to the bungalow, Hooch spread the clothes
purchases out on the bed. "I'd go for the elegant
one. You'll like where we'll eat."
have a good shave first." Checking the time. "Shower,
then a coffee and getting dressed. And we should be
fine for seven." Elegant. That was fine with him.
He relished the thought, in fact, of this 'Yank' who
knew about the good life, and seemed far more cultured
than he'd have given any American credit for. He began
to strip. "You planning to keep the anticipation?"
Pulling the brace off, Hooch rolled his neck and shoulders,
rubbing at the back to ease some of the tension. "I'll
get myself ready." 'Ready' meant more than a simple
is all yours. I'll just make a quick call." He
headed back into the kitchen, while Hooch was in the
bathroom, as usual leaving the door slightly ajar.
dialled Dan's number, which rang a couple of times,
before a member of the embassy staff picked up. Since
this was the private number, it became soon clear who
he was and that Mr McFadyen was in with Her Ladyship,
but would be called to the phone immediately, and it
should not take longer than a few minutes, and to please
promised, not much later, Dan's voice was heard, with
unmistakable amusement in it. "I take it you are
Dan, good to hear your voice, too", Vadim murmured.
"No, I'm not bored. Too busy spending money in
Berlin. You'd be bored to tears."
I don't quite believe that." Dan's smile was audible,
and then a shuffle and the sound of a cigarette being
lit. He took his time before saying anything else. "How
to relax. Latest mission was hard on him, I guess. Takes
him something to come down." Vadim kept an eye
on the corridor for Hooch, then began to start a coffee.
"Are you okay? Enjoying your holidays?"
not doing much else than gym, pool, sunning, drinking
fine booze and eating good food. And excellent company
of course." Dan paused, "would you tell me
I'm a bimbo if I told you I miss you?"
I miss you, too." And he did. Would be good to
be reunited, he thought. "Why don't you head out
to the States, meet Matt? And join me here in a week?
I could show you Berlin. This place is nice, good place
to unwind. Not quite Dubai, but you'll like it."
really do want to parcel me off to Matt, aye?"
Dan chuckled, a low rumbling sound. "I wonder what
I feel guilty for enjoying this." Vadim murmured
in Russian, reasonably sure that Hooch didn't speak
it. "I miss you, but I want you to have fun, okay?"
you in love with him?" Out of the blue, while Dan
stuck to English. Not feeling the need to switch, or
not wanting to, unsure why.
care about him." Vadim's brow was furrowed. "I
don't know what the feeling is, I haven't thought about
it. Maybe like you and Jean."
a friend, I'm not in love with him." The smile
was back in Dan's voice. "As long as you're not
in love with the man, then why feel guilty because you're
having fun? Besides, I've been thinking
did fall in love with someone else there would be pretty
little I could do." He suddenly chuckled, "except
for ripping your guts out, cutting your balls off and
stuffing them down your throat, of course."
way to say you're jealous." Vadim gave a soft laugh,
and noticed the faint but good coffee smell spread in
not!" Dan protested, too quickly to be entirely
damn, I remember I told
you I'd never be separated from you again. Now that
I am I don't fucking like it." No anger in his
voice though, instead a long slow exhale of smoke.
Berlin, not East Berlin. Strange. They can't reach me
here. I think they should have forgotten about me by
now. So, no risk." Vadim inhaled deeply. "But
I get you. Strange situation, isn't it?"
but a fair one." Dan smiled.
that the new rules
we spend time with friends
every now and then?"
don't like rules. You know me, irreverent bastard and
all that." Inhaling smoke, pausing, "but I
figure if I want to shag others you can do the same.
I wasn't made for monogamy, doesn't keep me from missing
you, though. And occasionally wondering, when I have
too much time on my hands - and I have a lot of time
" Fair was fair, Vadim thought.
Not that he wanted half as many men as Dan wanted. He
might see how attractive they were, but he didn't actually
go out of his way to make a move on them. Might have
to do with what Dr Williams had said. He had to be careful
with people. He didn't have to be careful with Hooch,
though. This man relished what he gave him. "What
are you wondering?"
I was just asking for a taste of my own medicine, aye?"
Dan chuckled, then another sound and shuffle, as he
put out the cigarette. "As for Matt, I've booked
the flight, but he's only got three days. How long do
you need me to be away?"
had come out of the bathroom, unseen and unheard, and
retreated once more, silently closing the door, to give
has a week. You're welcome to join us, or join me when
you come back."
wasn't what I asked."
don't need you to be away, Dan." Vadim frowned.
"Having the week here is good, but you're welcome
to join us or me when you return from Matt. No problem.
Just leave me a phone number."
small pause, before Dan replied, "I'll be there
on Tuesday, then." The day after Hooch had to leave.
"I'll let you know which plane I get, aye?"
I look forward to it." Vadim smiled. "Especially
regarding the reunion sex."
don't get too worn out." Dan grinned audibly, "not
sure about me, I have to deal with an insatiable kid,
but I'll do my best."
I'll have a day at least.
what, eight or five hours flight? Plus the time at the
airport. Plenty of opportunity to recover."
chuckled, "I'll be off Thursday night, you got
Matt's number, and if you don't, I'm sure Hooch has.
You have fun, aye? And tell him he's a lucky man to
felt his throat tighten. "I will. You enjoy the
kid. I'll head for the shower, then we'll be off to
a restaurant in Berlin."
fancy one?" The grin became more and more audible.
requested I should wear the most elegant thing I have."
Vadim laughed. "If you bring a suit I might take
you there, too. The waiters will be shocked, if I show
up with two absolute stunners within a week."
laughed out loud. "Figures! Well, I'll see what
I can do, for good food I might even get myself into
a suit. Unless you make me buy another one."
sure I want to be that cruel to a certain shop assistant."
Dan answered, "enjoy, Russkie, and I won't say
'think of me', because that would be fucking stupid
and I wouldn't do it if I were in your place."
His voice sounded warm. "I'll talk to you when
I talk to you. For now, have a good time." Adding,
in Russian, "love you, bastard."
tender laugh was heard before the phone was put down.
took a couple of minutes before the bathroom door opened
and Hooch reappeared, wearing a towel around his hips.
nodded, smiling. "He's just this side of jealous."
I normally don't do this. I'm not that interested in
most men. I'm interested in you, though."
three." Vadim pursed his lips. "And he says
I should tell you you're lucky to have me. Otherwise,
nothing much. I mean, he does it all the time."
jealous? Or taking opportunities?"
opportunities. Sometimes creating opportunities, like
nodded, "no different to me, then." A sudden
grin lit up his bruised face, "don't forget matchmaking
opportunities. I'd never have fucked a jarhead if he
hadn't set us up."
that. Seems he thought you'd be a good pair, sex-wise.
Not that I think Matt plays quite as hard as you do,
but he is damned pretty."
grinned, "no, Matt doesn't play hard. He's so damned
wholesome, he makes me forget all the shit." He
shrugged, "nothing can touch that kid, don't think
he'll ever turn bitter. And yeah, he's 'pretty'."
Giving a huff of a laugh, Hooch pointed at the clock
in the hallway. "Let's get ready?"
Shower and shave." Vadim headed into the bathroom
for a spot of 'grooming', shaving, and a quick shower,
used some lotion after the shave. He then went for the
dark blue suit, white shirt, cufflinks, and found the
polished dark shoes in the wardrobe.
had been dressing in the other room to have more space,
and when he finally came out, he was almost completely
dressed, in black suit and silk tie, with the brand
new gleaming shoes and the obsidian cufflinks. Shirt
still open and tie loose, he held the neck brace in
his hand. "Accident victim?" Raising the good
brow with an amused grin.
don't think it detracts from your attraction",
Vadim murmured. "I like how that straightens your
you of a collar?"
It does." Vadim brushed his suit with his hands,
enjoying the smooth, elegant fit. "But I think
it might not be great for eating. So, as long as we
keep your wrists bandaged, you should still be respectable."
the strangulation show?" Hooch stood still for
Vadim to close his shirt and adjust the tie, while checking
if the marks were visible.
collar rides fairly high. You should be okay if you
don't move your head too much. And if it shifts, I'll
gesture." Vadim brought a hand up to his tie, straightening
it. "Like this."
are they going to believe I am not just another domestic
don't look like a victim. You don't feel like a victim."
Vadim grinned. "But you can wear that thing if
you want to. Or I drop a remark about the car's insurance."
that remark." Hooch grinned back. "I called
a taxi earlier, it should be here any minute."
it was, turning up not much later. When they had settled
in, the driver asked for the destination and Hooch answered,
"Hotel Kempinski." Leaning back and flashing
a half-grin at Vadim.
glanced at Hooch. "Nice." With clear
appreciation. "And all I did was cook some steaks
not sure it's a fair compensation
gave me what I needed - and more." Hooch leaned
to the side, the light of the street lamps threw his
face into distorting shadows. "But let's get to
the deal over dinner."
Vadim couldn't help it, and reached over to touch Hooch's
thigh, resting his hand there for several long moments.
They sat in silence, each man deep in thoughts. Vadim
mainly thinking about what to expect, what would happen
next. And thinking of Hooch's body taking his cock any
way he wanted him to. Hooch's face twisted in pain,
but lust just as strong. He needed to think something
else, quickly, but neither was thinking of Dan particularly
leaned back into the seat, eye half-closed, as the darkening
city moved past them. They arrived well in time, and
he paid the driver, before getting out of the taxi in
front of the splendid building with its footman at the
top of the steps that led into the establishment. Hooch
adjusted his collar and tie, making sure his neck was
covered, before glancing at Vadim with that small smile
of his. The footman held the door open, greeting them
with a bow, and they walked into the foyer. Taking in
the elegant furnishings, as they steered towards the
restaurant, where a maitre d' was ever so politely enquiring
about their reservations, without even twitching an
eye at Hooch's appearance.
took in the surroundings, distinguished and relaxed
at the same time. People who dined here did so regularly
and didn't seem particularly aware of the sophistication.
Accepting it as a given. He followed the maitre d' who
escorted them to their table, which was set into a quiet
ordered aperitifs for both of them, before opening the
menu to peruse the selection. "Buddy of mine told
me to come here. Jeff, team member, his ex-wife dragged
him across Europe some time ago."
impressed." Vadim glanced at the prices and calculated
them into pound sterling, comparing them to what he'd
paid for other things so far. "I might drag Dan
he'd hate it?" Hooch smirked, good humoured.
Too much choice." Vadim indicated the menu. "Sounds
than rations. Not sure, though, if it'll be as good
as the first bite after starving for days."
one way to see it."
aperitifs were brought, and Hooch took a sip, before
studying the menu once more, finally deciding on a starter
and main course. "Want to choose the wine?"
Scanning the wine card when it was brought, they all
sounded good, and Vadim asked the waiter which one he
recommended. Going with the recommendation, he tried
the wine and nodded, feeling somewhat self-conscious,
while enjoying the ritual. How many levels away from
Afghanistan or Kuwait. Or any other shithole they might
end up in. Yugoslavia. Charming place.
ordered their food, and Hooch made an appreciative sound
over the wine. Spending a while in silence, which was
nothing but comfortable. He had been talking more than
usual, and being silent was his natural way. Relaxing
in the comfort of Vadim's presence, until their first
course was brought, which turned out to be exquisitely
presented and delicious.
want to know the deal or eat first?" Hooch looked
at Vadim over his food.
nodded, determined to make this food last, eating small
bites, chewing with relish. "The deal. But I'm
pretty sure that after this, I won't be able to not
agree to whatever you want."
want you to take me prisoner." Deadpanned. "For
two days and nights. No fight, no overpowering necessary.
You'll have me, and you know I don't play."
a forkful, Hooch kept looking at Vadim. "If I'm
not healed up by next week I'm in deep shit. Can't afford
any more injuries, but
" leaning closer,
"I want you to show me my limits."
managed to swallow the bite of food, then looked at
Hooch intently. "No visible signs", he repeated.
"But serious." Prisoner. A game with very
few rules. Safer than if anybody else did it, he thought.
That answered the question 'why me?' "And no game."
Vadim took a mouthful of the wine. "You think that
will last you for a while? Because - I'd rather know
well, 'safe' when you're leaving."
leaving for a stint at Fort Bragg, then off to another
shithole. No time not to be 'safe'." Taking another
piece onto his fork, Hooch half-grinned. "After
the two days and nights, all's fair. If I win, I get
to fuck you, and vice versa. Sex. Fun. The other stuff."
nodded. The other stuff. Two more days to feed
the darker craving, and then fun and games for the rest
of the week. Hooch knew exactly what he wanted, and
also how to get it. "I wonder if I should ask or
whether you want me to guess
how you want to
be treated. What presses your buttons. Authority, I
get that, but
any more hints are welcome."
lowered his head while moving food onto his fork. Dark
lashes shadowing his eyes. When his face came back up,
he was so close, he didn't need to do more than murmur.
"Pain. Nipples, cock and ball torture. Whipping.
Humiliation. I want to know if I get off on it."
felt it was getting too warm in the room. "I'll
do my best
to get you off, too." He smiled,
feeling somewhat apprehensive. "I haven't done
it like that, but I'm sure I can work it out."
a natural, because you understand." Hooch drawled,
voice low, before leaning back and finishing his starter.
The wine was excellent, it was flowing freely, and by
the time the main course arrived, they were onto the
second bottle. The room was, indeed, getting warmer.
"What you been doing with Dan?" The silent
understanding that if Vadim did not want to, he didn't
have to answer.
sometimes play." Keeping his voice low. It was
surreal to discuss this here, but Vadim didn't mind,
there was enough privacy. "But it's a game. With
our history, Dan
wouldn't have it any other way.
Sometimes he submits, but that's a game. I know if I
force it too much, he'll snap and makes me feel it.
That means it can never turn very serious. There's always
some safety barrier. I can be grateful that he
allows me to fuck him. For years, that was a complete
no-go area. That's fine, I
like getting fucked,
so it was usually me. Most of the time, we have 'vanilla'
sex. Passionate, rough sometimes, because I enjoy it
rough. He can drive me up the wall when he fucks me
slow, on our sides. I can't
cum when he doesn't
give me a hand or something. He uses that against me
. Sometimes, I get tied up, but that's it. One
thing he does is have some other guy fuck me while he
watches. His friends, like Jean. Or Beauvais."
Vadim inhaled deeply, while Hooch's full attention was
on him. "But there's
something very dark
in me. One time, when I was on patrol in Afghanistan,
and I left the group only to shit, he jumped me, fucked
me against a rock. I was the team leader. My patrol
was easily within ear shot. And we weren't friends then,
it was fucking dangerous, but it blew my mind. I wanted
that. I wanted to be overpowered
and not asked
what I wanted or whether it was good for me or anything
like that. And maybe, after all these years
would keep it fresh. Don't want either of us to get
bored, you know?"
understand." Hooch regarded Vadim for a moment,
his hand dropped under the table to adjust himself.
The effect on him all too obvious, and thankful for
the table linen. "Do you want me to do for you
what you do for me?"
smiled, accepting that he was turned on, knowing that
Hooch was deliberately building expectation and need.
"You're not made of that. You wouldn't get anything
out of it."
can do anything, and for a friend I would."
studied Hooch's face, his eyes, knowing Hooch would
do whatever it took. Likely detached, though, going
through the motions. Which, in a way, would make it
unreal, would be an act, not lovemaking or sex or whatever
that kind of thing was called best. "I'm not sure,
Hooch. After the sessions courtesy of the KGB, I am
not sure how I'll respond. There was a man, an interrogator,
who dismantled me
he took me apart like you or
I would take an AK apart in no time. Some other doctor
reassembled me, but I keep thinking some of the parts
you know, are broken? They fill their space,
but I'm not sure how much strain I want to put on them.
The things he did
the constant beating, sleep
deprivation, the way he got at me from all sides
they are very hard to accept. Sometimes, during sex,
they come back. Then I feel the whole amount of shame
wanting to die
and I feel like I'm
about to vomit. I'm not sure I can risk it. Because
that kind of humiliation isn't erotic. I have no idea
what happens if you'd put strain on that old AK."
said nothing, placed his cutlery down and dabbed his
lips with the starched napkin. Looking at Vadim for
a long moment. His dark eyes were slightly shielded,
but even so, the compassion and understanding was visible.
"That's Dan's job, then."
inhaled deeply. "It's not that I don't trust you.
I do. I want to play rough, but
I don't want
you to do it for my sake, and I'm not sure how much
of it I can take. Dan has a way to get me there, but
I don't know how. And it's nowhere near what you like
because he loves you." Hooch smiled the customary
half-quirk. "You've got history." He nodded,
picking his cutlery up again, "it's that simple."
guess that's true." He'd sworn it a hundred times.
But at the same time, Vadim hoped that Hooch didn't
mind that. Besides, what were the rules of such a situation.
He cared about him. He trusted him. He wanted him. He
felt fully at ease with Hooch and he was looking forward
to being alone with him again. "We've come too
far. Got the worst of each other, and now the best,
of me envies you. Part of me freaks out." Hooch
continued to eat, before raising his glass, gazing at
the wine, then taking a sip.
what? Ten, twelve years younger than I am? Plenty of
time to form a habit and then a relationship with some
but I'd rather skip torture, scars, and insanity."
laughed. "Best hint: Don't sleep with an enemy."
could be an enemy." Hooch took another sip.
go out to get yourself fucked and instead you get fucked
up." Hooch shrugged, "forget it." Raising
his glass once more to clink it against Vadim's. "Want
why not." Vadim chose a hot sweet apple pastry
dish for dessert, served with ice cream. He'd better
go jogging tomorrow, after he'd slept off the wine.
Easy to shed the discipline, he thought. "But if
you want to wrestle for the top position, I'd be more
than happy to oblige you."
Hooch had chosen the cheese platter and was leaning
back, fresh glass in hand.
Wrestle. No punches, no kicks, just wrestling. I might
tell you the story of the Tajik that wrestled me when
I was stationed near the Afghan border. It's their national
sport or something, very silly of me to take the bet,
but I was bored and a bit drunk. I ended up underneath
him, all limbs that can be locked were locked, and he
knew I was hard, but there was no way I'd let him fuck
me - I was too stupidly proud
- so we continued
to struggle, and he brought me off that way."
get off like that?"
had been a long time since I'd had sex, and half the
fun was the fact that ... well, I'm as Russian as you
can be, and we have that
if it comes to non-Russians. The Soviet Union was as
multiethnic as you can make any place, but the Russians
always thought they were the best. Plus, I was an officer
and he was just a soldier. I guess the double humiliation
did it, too."
considered the idea, "I'll take that challenge,
but not tonight." The dessert came, and it was
as heavenly as the rest, going beautifully with the
wine, which had both men tipsier than expected. "You
know what completely threw me when it happened the first
time?" Tongue loosened, Hooch grinned, "getting
fucked really hard by some nameless freak, wanting
to either scream or puke my guts out. That's when I
came. Just like that. Completely blew my head off."
nodded. "I'd take that challenge."
bet." Hooch bit a piece off his cracker and cheese.
"I wonder if I can cum with pain and fucking alone.
me to try?"
and no risk you kill me for real." He managed to
produce a grin, finishing off his glass of wine. "But
I'm not sure about the latter if we don't get back soon."
wave the penguin over and pay." Vadim grinned.
huffed a laugh but did exactly that, and after he'd
paid, they finished their desserts and the wine, and
had a taxi called for them. Standing in the foyer, well
tipsy, which made the situation all the worse, especially
for Hooch, who wasn't sure if he should try to piss
or will his hard-on down in any other way. He stood
close to Vadim, far too close, their bodies touching
all the way, and he didn't give a damn. On the contrary,
when an extremely well dressed middle-aged couple entered
the hotel, and looked disapprovingly at them, he suddenly
felt a devil-may-care attitude, and ostentatiously ran
his hand down the middle of Vadim's back, until it rested
on his backside, copping a feel. And Vadim, being drunk,
didn't care enough to be mortified.
I'm horny." Hooch murmured into Vadim's ear.
here." Vadim pursed his lips. "You think we'd
get a room in this place? Maybe a double or twin or
whatever they are called?"
all the toys back in the bungalow? No way." The
footman waved to them when a taxi pulled up outside.
"Besides, I want you to make me scream." Hooch
grinned, somewhat drunkenly, and they managed to get
into the taxi, with Vadim telling the driver where to
go. It didn't take more than two minutes, though, before
Hooch leaned close, his hand between Vadim's legs. "Has
Germany got a law against illicit behaviour between
men in public transport?"
idea. British citizen. Fuck." Vadim groaned
when Hooch touched him. He'd wanted that all day, but
had known that he'd had to save it for the 'game' later.
Hooch going so recklessly at him confused him, dizzied
him, or it was the alcohol. It was good to be taken
by surprise. He managed to lean forward. "Driver",
he said, pretty clearly. "You get a hundred extra
if you don't look into the rear, right? Just ignore
driver glanced into his mirror, then nodded. "Okay."
Firmly taking his eyes back onto the road.
chuckled low, a husky sound, leaning even closer while
his hand kneaded Vadim's cock through the trousers.
"You going to keep me tied up? Night and day? Make
me wear that butt plug? Make me suck you, on my knees?
Use my cock until I scream into the gag?" Leaning
down, he sucked on Vadim's neck, the spot right above
the shirt collar.
couldn't hold back the groans, reaching around to Hooch's
shoulder and pressing him closer, shifting, couldn't
get enough contact, felt ridiculously relaxed about
kissing Hooch - another man! - in the backseat of a
taxi, with the poor driver likely shocked and disgusted,
but he didn't care. For once. Alcohol was the likely
explanation. He had no idea what was taking him there,
apart from the bloody need. His hand on Hooch's cock,
the touch light because he kept getting distracted,
tongues fighting, the heat just rising and rising. They
wouldn't manage to make it to the bed. He had no idea
how they'd even get through the door.
was so hard when the car slowed down eventually and
they pulled up in front of the bungalow, that he was
ready to cum with just another touch. Letting out a
frustrated sound, he moved away, searching for his wallet,
but too horny to find it. "Shit."
managed to find his wallet, though, grinning brightly
at the driver, handing him the money and the hundred
marks bill extra. "Thanks." It was nice to
be able to pay for such liberties, and knowing, of course,
that the poor driver had seriously earned the extra
cash. He turned towards the bungalow, fiddling with
his keys, while Hooch really wasn't helping, running
his hands all over Vadim's ass, until he finally found
the key and managed to get the door open, both stumbling
just about kicked the door closed, when he pulled off
his jacket, flung it across the low table in the hallway,
no matter how expensive the suit had been, and was working
on loosening his tie and shirt, while toeing his shoes
off. Back against the door, he could feel Vadim close,
Vadim pressing in to kiss and touch all over his body,
grinding up against him and trying hard to lose his
suit as well, at least managing to open his trousers
and push them down. Kissing the strangulation marks,
sucking on them - not hard enough to create more blemishes,
but hard enough to be felt, and Hooch groaned, hit his
head back against the door, while ripping the tie off.
Managing to get the last of the shirt buttons open,
he bared his chest, throat, his whole body. For Vadim
to take, to use.
almost tore the belt out of the loops when he opened
it, fingers working on the fly of his trousers, pushing
them down together with the briefs. He couldn't step
out of them, though, pinned against the door by the
weight of Vadim's body.
just barely remembered the game they had agreed on,
and it was fucking hard, because he was torn between
two instincts - one was to grind against Hooch, keeping
him pinned against the door, the other was to turn him
around and fuck him, but the latter one was impossible
without lube, oil, lotion, whatever, and it was even
more impossible to stop and separate to get to the bath-
or bedroom. Still, Vadim pushed himself away, just enough
to breathe for a few seconds. "Down. On
your knees", he murmured, taking Hooch by the neck
and half-forcing him down.
Hooch protested, struggled, but the fight was born out
of his need to get off, nothing else. Once down, on
the cold, hard floor, he twisted to pull his trousers,
briefs and socks off. Naked and needing, yet he remembered
that this was what he wanted. Prisoner. Thing. Used,
and his head moved forward, taking Vadim's cock deep,
with more reckless gusto than ever.
groaned, deeply, mind blanking with the touch that was
so fucking needed, and he knew he wouldn't last that
long, wouldn't be able to tease Hooch and just wait,
no, he needed to get off now - and keep Hooch interested
and needy because that was part of the game. He grinned,
taking Hooch's head and forcing him to take him deeper,
which the Delta did, with uncanny skill.
reflex suppressed with his own need to cum, Hooch pulled
his hands back, forced his throat to relax and his whole
body just to take, and he almost came when Vadim started
to fuck his throat roughly, leaving him no way out.
Keeping him there, head controlled with both hands,
Vadim moving quickly and with force, letting go of his
need and when he came, he forced Hooch to take him all
the way. Twitching cock buried deep in Hooch's throat,
who couldn't swallow, gagging on the intrusion, and
still just taking it.
a few deep, fast breaths, Vadim then managed to pull
himself back together, pulled free and took Hooch's
throat with one hand, not too much force, but showing
off some of his strength. He half pulled, half pushed
Hooch with him to the bedroom, who followed, had no
choice, unless he tried to fight, and that was not an
released him near the bed. "Stay on your knees."
He found the blindfold first, while Hooch gained balance
on his knees, and slipped it over Hooch's eyes, adjusting
it, and covering up most bruises, then the padded handcuffs.
Hooch's wrists were bandaged, but even so, these ones
wouldn't hurt. He handcuffed him roughly, arms on his
back, pulling Hooch's shoulders back, chest muscles
standing out more. Then paused just for a second to
look at him, naked, horny, tied, blind. What a piece
knelt, breathing noisily, but despite being merely handcuffed,
he did not move, didn't fight. Prisoner, he'd made a
deal, and he always kept his word. Just that he was
going insane with the arousal, which was growing worse
with the rough treatment and the bondage.
pushed Hooch's knees apart with his foot, making him
more vulnerable, then decided he'd make life more interesting
for him. He took the cockring next, took hold of Hooch's
cock and balls, and fastened the ring, giving his balls
a firm squeeze and pulling on his cock. Playing with
it, but roughly, causing Hooch to make noises. Needy,
lust-filled groans and, again, the desperate whimper.
He didn't beg, but so close, too close. Trying to move
towards the hand, hips jerking.
aren't you a needy bitch."
shuddered and let out another desperate sound.
grinned, then released the cock that seemed very close
to blowing. His hands trailing up to Hooch's nipples
that were small and hard, rubbing across them, then
taking one between thumb and first finger and twisting
jerked, throwing his head far back into his neck, panting
through parted lips. Lips that started to move, as if
seemed to be the keyword. Vadim reached for the gag,
hooked a thumb into Hooch's mouth to pull the jaw open,
and slipped the gag in before Hooch could react. Closing
it at the back of the man's head. "Shut up, cocksucker."
In a low murmur, near his ear. "Nobody cares what
you have to say."
shuddered, making desperate noises into the gag, his
skin suddenly gleaming with sweat, when Vadim's hand
slid back to the nipples, twisting and pressing and
pulling on them. Slow, then harsh, gradually building
up, until they were red and felt swollen to the touch.
Only then did he add the cold metallic nipple clamps.
The very moment the steel bit into tortured flesh, Hooch
screamed into the gag, nearly lifting off the floor,
ready to fight, because fighting was his first reaction,
and Vadim's response was prompt and instinctive. Two
slaps to the face, open-handed, not too powerful, he
managed to restrain the first, violent urge, when Hooch
fell back, breathing through his nose against the pain,
the weights on the clamps swinging freely. Nostrils
upset the captor. Never make him angry. He can destroy
you. If you do, he will." Vadim stared into the
blind face, tugging at the chain on the clamp that connected
them, and Hooch screamed into the gag again, suppressed
this time. "It costs me nothing to break you. You
don't want me angry."
became still, very still, did nothing but breathe. A
picture of concentration, his whole body tense, muscles
in stark relief, but his cock still hard as a rock.
Vadim ran his hand through Hooch's hair, took it roughly,
pulled back his neck. "Do you understand?"
shouted at him from no more than a few inches away,
and Hooch jerked at the sudden noise. Disorientated
from blindfold and lust. He nodded jerkily, best he
could with his head pulled back like that. Never
upset the captor. A nod. Yes. Never. He will
destroy you. And destruction was above and beyond
stepped behind him and pushed him over, until he hit
the floor with his chest, not having the use of his
hands. "Down." Taking Hooch's hips until they
were in the air, on his knees, legs open, cock dangling
between them, hard, and Hooch's shoulders supporting
his weight. Vadim slapped the presented ass with his
bare hand, twice, three times, the slaps too loud in
the room, except for the noises that Hooch made when
he pushed his hips back and up, towards the hand that
was hitting him. The pain and heat on his ass exquisite,
each slap a stab of lust, going right through his bound
cock and balls, reverberating in his nipples.
enjoy this, bitch", Vadim stated, hitting the buttocks
again, mesmerized by what this did to Hooch, how responsive
he was, how much in lust right now. He reached for the
larger of the two dildos, some lube, too, smearing the
cold stuff into the crack. Hooch wanted pain. He couldn't
relax him much for this. Coating the dildo with lube,
too, then took hold of Hooch's hips, holding him firmly
as he positioned the dildo and forced it in with considerable
Hooch had screamed before, the screams were nothing
compared to the sounds that were ripped out of his throat
now, muffled by the gag. Tensing until his body was
nothing but a rock-hard statue, he took the pain and
the intrusion with sheer will, until it broke through
the barrier, the threshold that separated a masochist
from anyone else, and he lost himself completely. Where
movement had ceased before, he now recklessly pushed
back, towards the dildo, despite the restricted movement
trying to force even more inside his body, to take him
beyond the bearable. Lust and pain, intricately linked,
and Hooch was mindlessly, greedily, taking it all and
begging for more.
loosened the grip, allowing Hooch to move, and began
to fuck him rough and deep with the dildo, watching
how it slid in and out, feeling how the body accommodated
the size, because it had to, and then sped up, knowing
he had to ride that peak that came with the pain. Hooch
wanted all the intensity he could get, and it wasn't
pain any longer, but pain squared with lust.
was lost, completely. If the gag hadn't had a safety
hole, he would have passed out, unable to coordinate
his breathing. Nothing but agony, lust, and he suddenly
tensed, lifting his whole upper body off the floor,
despite the position he was in, and he screamed into
the gag; screamed with pain and release, with need and
years and years of lust and want and greed and everything
he had never been meant to be, as he came so hard, even
the cockring did nothing to stop the explosion.
gently pulled the dildo out, ran his hands down the
sweaty flanks, relishing how Hooch shuddered, trembled,
and pulled him back up to lean against him. Vadim embraced
the man, kissing his sore neck and shoulders, breathing
across the sweaty skin. Just holding for a long time,
while Hooch was coming down, still now and then wrecked
with ever decreasing shudders. Vadim removed the cock
ring first, eliciting a small sound, then the nipple
clamps, which had a more violent reaction. Hooch doubled
over, hissing against the gag. Vadim wanted to keep
him like this, and he wondered if that fit into Hooch's
idea of the game. Likely not. He reached for the blindfold,
but then kept it in place, and then, reluctantly, released
him, and stood, looking down at him. The scent still
in his nostrils.
was kneeling once more, lifting his head when Vadim
left him, blindly searching for a point of reference,
straining to listen for any sound. His chest expanded
with each breath, fingers behind his back intertwined.
got rid of the rest of his clothes, putting them onto
one of the chairs, assuming Hooch could place him in
a general direction. What now. Getting the prisoner
cleaned up would be good, but he'd have to remove the
blindfold and the handcuffs if he'd order Hooch to do
that by himself - never mind the mess on the carpet
- but leaving him like that? He gave it some thought,
then took the cuffs off and the bandages, too - he'd
need to rebandage those anyway. Hooch remained still,
head turning towards the movement and sound, but letting
himself get handled. Perhaps not to antagonise, or perhaps
he was just too exhausted.
used rope to tie Hooch up again, then pulled him onto
his feet by his hair and dragged him into the bathroom.
Hooch followed, like a parcel or a thing, and yet everything
but a thing. Even when he was manoeuvred into
the tub, despite letting himself being moved like a
puppet. Vadim took the shower head to rinse him. The
washing wasn't tender, not like he normally would do
it - instead businesslike, rough, washing the ass and
cock and balls, like Hooch was just meat, and making
him move his legs and turn towards the water and soap.
Hooch blindly followed, hardy making a sound, except
for an occasional hissing intake of breath through the
breathing tube. Vadim got him out of the tub again and
rubbed him dry, with very little tenderness.
stood, hair still damp above the blindfold that remained
in place. His body warred between relaxed and allowing
anything that happened - and being tense, trying to
listen to sounds and tracking movement. Standing with
his hands back, legs slightly braced, and shivering
as if he were cold.
had to remind himself again that touching and kissing
wasn't what Hooch wanted. He seemed to expect something,
maybe further pain. "Move." Pushing him roughly
back to the bedroom, Hooch stumbled a few times, knocking
blindly into doorframes and walls and furniture, until
he reached the bedroom, not knowing where he was, but
Vadim stopped him and made him bend over. He lubed up
the butt plug, and pushed the thing inside, until it
sat firmly in its place, and no amount of movement could
dislodge it. Hooch groaned into the gag, but Vadim took
no notice, instead took the rope off and rebandaged
the wrists, only to put them back into the cuffs, but
this time in Hooch's front. However, he used a length
of rope to tie Hooch's hands to the bedframe, and made
sure that the knots were tight enough to resist all
stretched out of his head, Hoch lay on his side on the
carpet in front of the bed, fully concentrated.
took one of the covers and placed it over the man on
the floor. "You will stay here." He'd much
rather have him join him in the bed, but again, that
wasn't the game Hooch wanted to play.
lay still, breathing, an odd sense of acceptance and
relaxation about him. Calmness. Stillness. As if the
darkness had no space.
next two days were the most intense of Hooch's life,
far more than any of his deployments. No battlefield,
no close combat had ever been as deep-cutting as the
combat with himself, and the final acceptance of truths
that went all the way to the core. Never again forgetting
what he learned about himself during the time, and when
the two days and two nights were up, they changed into
men once more, who laughed with each other, went sightseeing,
supped in good restaurants and enjoyed a drink or two
in one of the many bars and cafes. Fun and the 'other
stuff', until it was time for Hooch to leave.
brought him to the airport, and the man who walked through
the gates walked with ease and a relaxed grin, raising
his hand in greeting as he turned around the corner
and out of view.