1992, The Balkans
figured the building had been a school or similar once
- shelled until half of it had collapsed, and what remained
standing didn't inspire confidence in the structure.
He picked his way through the rubble carefully and as
quietly as possible, finding relatively easy access
once the rubble was left behind. That's when he slowed
down, turning into stealth mode, all senses honed. The
air still tasted of dust and he could sense Vadim close.
cellar was still intact in one wing of the building,
and that was where Vadim had been heading. There was
a room that might have been a boiler room before the
war, and Dan crouched behind a steel girder, the moment
he saw a small light. Too insignificant to be seen from
the outside, a tea light. There was a sleeping mat close
by, a woollen blanket, and a man with his hands chained
to one of the massive boilers. The light barely touched
his face, he appeared worn, dusty, but above all, cold,
forced into hardly moving.
man was crouched next to him, and Dan's eyes narrowed.
That man was Vadim.
was feeding the man on the ground, canned meat and dry
biscuits, and then water from his own bottle. The lying
man ate everything Vadim gave him, clearly hungry, or
just simply not protesting much, or resigned and knowing
he'd need to preserve his strength. They didn't speak,
but there was an odd sense of understanding between
man moved his hand to indicate he'd drunk enough, and
Vadim closed the bottle and put it down, then checked
on the wrists, all in a perfectly calm, businesslike
manner. Like keeping prisoners was perfectly normal.
okay?" Vadim asked, his hand now resting on the
man's shoulder, then moved a few inches to his chest.
He was speaking Russian.
other man looked up, met Vadim's gaze, there was the
beginning of a smile or grin, or similar dismissive
notion, but then he pressed his lips together. "Let
frowned, thoughtfully, hand moving across the man's
chest, as if checking the pockets of his vest for hidden,
illicit goods. "Anything else?" When no answer
came, he shifted, packed the remainder of the food and
the wrappers back into his bergan, silently watched
by the other man.
do you plan to be back?" asked the captive.
don't know. Not long."
captive shook his head. "Fuck you. You'll leave
me here, right? Like this? Like the other days?"
Too dangerous in the light."
Fuck me." Vadim's hand ran up to the captive's
face, his neck, searching, testing, but there was no
response that Dan could see, then down towards his navel.
Without a word, with no further comment or question,
Vadim suddenly rolled on top of the other man, whose
hands formed fists in the handcuffs, breath growing
laboured under Vadim's weight.
remained frozen, even if he could make a sound, he wouldn't
be able to. Staring at the two men, seeing
Some kind of rape? What the fuck made it 'rape' anyway,
but a set of chains and manacles was a damn convincing
indicator for 'unwilling'.
was moving on top, hands on the other's ragtag uniform,
pulling his vest free, baring skin, pulling flies open
and apart, grunting with forceful grinding motions that
made the captive's neck and throat tense visibly in
the sparse light. A flash of skin, the scent of sex,
Vadim grinding against the other's body, cock against
cock, until he came, and remained on top for a while
longer. Working against the other's motions, who arched,
both hands clenching around the chain, so hard his veins
stood out visibly. His groans tortured, losing, after
his freedom, the control of his own body.
rolled off, leaving the panting man, put both sets of
camo back in order, after using the scarf to clean himself
and the other. "Sleep. Time passes quicker, then."
Five or six hours." Vadim stood, shouldering his
felt bile rise in his throat as he watched Vadim disappear,
pressing his body further against the girder, blending
with the shadows.
Vadim was gone, and he was left breathing. Against the
nausea and against the urge to run after him and kick
the shit out of the bastard, hurting him until he bled,
to make him talk, explain, any-fucking-thing, just as
long as it took those images and thoughts away.
lying man had turned his head, staring at the flame
of the tea light, eyes catching the light. They seemed
dark, mottled, and the dusty, tired face was as far
removed from peace as was possible. Not resigned, just
tired, and focusing on the flame. Knowing that the light
would be gone in mere hours.
waited a while longer, most of all to ensure Vadim would
not return, not now, or he'd follow his urge all too
efficiently. He finally took one deep breath, before
stealthily crawling back the way he'd come. It would
be no good to let the man - whoever he was - know that
he'd been witnessing the scene. Once sufficiently far
away, he turned again, this time picking his way through
the rubble like a man who was cautious, but not overly
worried about making a sound. He didn't have a plan
yet, but he'd be fucked if he wasn't going to do something.
Barge ahead, and think later.
candle light vanished. A mere breath, the captive's
body twisting, and the light was out.
stopped, reached for his torchlight, and shone it around,
as if he didn't know that someone was there. Randomly
shining into corners and along walls. "Anybody
in there?" Calling out in his broadest Scottish
accent. No way he was going to be mistaken for anything
but a Brit. Carefully taking a few further steps, avoiding
tripping over the rubble, He knew he was getting closer,
but deliberately walked a few steps away. "Hello?"
a sound. Not a breath, not a scrape of chain against
boiler metal, no shifting of a body. Dead silence.
glanced to the side where he knew the prisoner was,
allowing the torch to glide over the still body. Stopping,
light and man, and he turned, shining the beam of brightness
right onto the still lump. "Hello there, you OK?
You understand me?" Not quite naïve, certainly
not trusting, least of all when he slipped a weapon
out of its holster into his hand, but acting well enough.
Moving cautiously closer, until he looked down, but
could not be reached by a suddenly flailing arm. "Hey!"
man's eyes opened. He might have preferred to be thought
of as a corpse, but he squinted against the light, shadowing
his face with his elbow. Hands still around the chain
to suppress every sound of the metal. Face blank, trying
to make out the eyes of his 'visitor'. Nodding, blinking
like he'd been roused from sleep. "Are you British?"
he asked, his English coloured with Russian. Not that
most non-native speakers would be able to tell the difference
between a Russian speaking English with a Russian accent
and a Serb speaking English.
Dan nodded, shielding the light away from the man's
eyes. "What the fuck are you doing here? I'm going
through all the buildings that are still more or less
standing. Fucking boring task checking the ruins, and
then bingo! There really is someone lying here. You
sleeping rough? And who the fuck are you?" Sticking
to his not yet existing plan, but whatever it was, there
was no way he'd let on that he had anything to do with
man stared at him, then slowly nodded, as if understanding.
"I'm trapped", he said, glancing at his hands.
"Are you a mercenary? Somebody's bodyguard, perhaps?
Or a journalist?" The man attempted a smile, somewhat
sheepish. "Can you get the cuffs off?"
Dan played as dumb as he could without looking unconvincing.
Shining the light onto the chains, he let his eyes grow
wide in surprise. "You're chained up, who did that?"
don't know. They didn't introduce themselves",
said the man, maybe now slowly beginning to hope he
might be set free. But cautious, watching every movement,
and the gun. Shifting to lie on his side, peering up
at Dan. "Are you a mercenary? British?"
Dan nodded, put the gun away, making sure the other
saw his movements. "I'm one of the mercenaries
in the camp nearby." Getting to his knees, he put
the torch onto the ground so it provided sufficient
light, then patted the man down, as if checking for
injuries. There were no open wounds, just the cold skin
of having been in the low temperatures for too long,
days, maybe. He smelled of sex, the lingering scent
of Vadim still on him, and Dan paused, staying far too
long, before he let go of the man.
alright. I'm not wounded. But I'm slightly dehydrated,
and I should get out of the cold", the man gave
a rational summary.
you make out who caught you? There must be a reason
why you are chained up?"
don't know. I honestly have no idea. I've been here
for days, I don't know. Set me free, yes?" Indicating
the handcuffs again. "I kept thinking the building
would come down and bury me alive." Smoothly said,
but there was something in the man's eyes that told
Dan that indeed, that had been one of the lingering
thoughts during his captivity.
Dan nodded, looking around, "but you don't seem
to be in too bad a condition. They fed you alright?"
His hand came back down onto the man's chest. "By
the way, I am Dan. Who are you?" Figuring that
there was no way Vadim would have mentioned his name.
the man looked at Dan's hand on his chest. He was wearing
a mix of various uniforms, some Russian, some from somewhere
else, some civilian survival kit. No dog tag. "Dima."
Choosing the nickname of Dmitri. "Friends call
me Dima." Glancing up, as if asking Are you a friend?
His eyes appeared dark green, with brown in them. He
was roughly Vadim's age, the dust made his features
appear older, washed out. "Let me go, please."
don't even know who the fuck you are." Dan left
his hand on the chest, if anything, applying more pressure,
as he leaned down. Too close, far too close to those
strangely speckled eyes, but feeling strength under
his hand. The whole man resisted, tightened, eyes narrowing.
could be a chetnik, Dima, and the moment I turn round,
you blast a bullet into my back." He was metaphorically
speaking, he saw no weapons near. "Why the hell
would anyone chain anyone else up, keeping them fed
and watered and a candle nearby, and a couple of blankets."
He lowered even more, face to face, with barely a hand's
breadth in between. "You tell me, aye?" Murmured,
but he flashed a grin after that, his sunniest one,
which almost touched his eyes.
stared at him, and every piece of that harmless veneer
vanished from him. His hands tightened again around
the chains and he met the gaze, full on, not a challenge,
but stubborn resistance. "If I was chetnik, the
kidnapper would have killed me. If they were mercs.
If I wasn't, and I was kidnapped by chetniks, I'd be
dead, too. I'm a mercenary, too. Not a chetnik. I'm
not a Serb."
who captured and kept you?"
told you, I don't know. Could be your side. Could be
chetniks. Could be anything." He kept his eyes
smiled, sunny again, teeth and all, but he dropped the
pretence for a second. "And why does it smell of
cum around here? Wanking with hands chained to a boiler
seems damn difficult to me." The grin was back
in place immediately. "Or are we talking a great
big kinky feast, here? In the middle of shitty Yugo-land?"
And maybe, just maybe, what he had seen had been a game
and not real. But Vadim
what had changed him
back? Dan's dark eyes suddenly became hard and cold,
the moment he thought of the bitch and how she'd destroyed
everything, even from afar.
stared at him, paler now under the dust. "Seems
there was some kind of sexual encounter, then. Why?
You interested?" He was tense, taut, hating every
second of being helpless and Dan clearly not a friend.
stalled for a moment, looking down into those strange
eyes, until he finally pulled his lips from his teeth
in an entirely humourless grin. "I might be the
camp faggot, but I don't 'do' prisoners. Especially
not if they are someone else's." He let go of the
other and moved back, away from the light and out of
eyes stayed on him, not a muscle in his face had moved
at the 'faggot', clearly focusing on Dan, every move
potentially threatening. "Where are you going?"
you worried about being left alone?" Dan's voice
disembodied in the gloom.
you", Dima murmured in Russian, more to himself.
"No, why should I? I can feed myself, I can piss
and shit in a hygienic manner, I have drunk so much
water the last days I can last a week, and I enjoy lying
in a shelled building that makes strange sounds every
now and then. Nice and cosy and warm here, my socks
are clean and fresh, my feet dry and snug. I can do
my job and I'm not bored. You fucking joker."
what is your job?" Dan hadn't moved, no sound in
a merc. Speciality medic." Dima huffed. "Which,
translated, means I know how a body looks that had a
house fall on it. I am also fairly aware of exposure,
and, of course, I know starvation and dehydration.
let out a snort and turned back into the light, studying
the man on the ground, who met the gaze, looked at him
past his elbow that half-shielded his face - probably
to give a measure of protection. "Despite being
that perceptive, you still trying to tell me that you
have no idea who captured you and then
a merc, too. No allegiance. Or rather ... British."
Something made Dima's voice sound thick and almost emotional
and Dan's eyes flashed for an unguarded second before
he had himself under control again. "He's one of
yours, then. Happy now? He keeps me here and alive,
but that's it. If he gets shot out there, I'm fucked
- terminally. So, yeah, whatever. Fuck me, kill me,
leave me. You're just here to gloat or interrogate me.
So, go ahead, kick me around a bit. Teach me you mean
it. Break a rib or two. It's not much I can do about
it. If you think I'm a chetnik, I deserve that, right?"
Russian." Dan said, suddenly switching into Russian,
while ignoring anything the man had said, "which
makes me wonder why the fuck you are here. Don't tell
me you had the orders?" Still speaking fluent Russian,
getting faster with every word.
frowned darkly, not used to be addressed in his own
language like that. "I'm not cleared to tell you
that. Remember? Soldiers are not supposed to give anything
away that isn't their name and number."
Dan switched into English, "but I'm not bound to
any codes anymore." Back the next moment to Russian,
"unlike the days in Afghanistan." Watching
the man's face very closely.
shot. You think I was one of the 'lost generation'?"
Dima looked pointedly at his hands. "I'm old enough,
think you might be." Dan nodded, "and that
might be how you know that 'British' merc of yours."
He shrugged, still sticking to Russian, it felt strangely
good to use the language again. Fierce and primal, a
reminder of times worse and better and entirely straightforward.
Enemies. Lovers. Dust and pain and lust and love.
in, I patched him up near Salang Pass one fine, dusty
afternoon?" Dima grinned, sharp, white, flawless
teeth, if not for two eye teeth that were crooked.
you don't get a word from me unless you've untied me.
Simple. You want information, I want my freedom. You
either give this to me, or you break the words out of
me. I'm gambling. You probably have the stomach to do
that, but just telling you what you want to know without
getting anything out of it for me is shit. Do you agree?"
laughed without humour, and yet the sound was dark and
strangely enticing. "I'm ex-SAS, mate." Switching
back to English, "I have the stomach for a hell
of a lot of things, including carving 'cunt' into the
back of that captor of yours." He shifted his weight,
leaving free range for his right arm.
fell silent, eyes narrow, and there was something in
his face. Shock. Maybe disgust. But he did understand.
Understood the implications, suddenly understood the
connection: SAS, Vadim's scars, Afghanistan, mercs.
No longer daring Dan. Instead, realising something of
the scope and the meaning. "Okay." No humour,
no lightness, no challenge left. Mind working on the
information, but he seemed to withdraw suddenly, build
up his defences, maybe his courage.
see." Dan nodded, could indeed see a lot of things
in the man's face, who was bolstering himself for the
worst. Torture, execution, whatever else. As a medic,
he would know a lot about what could be done to a human
if you think I leave you here in this rat hole, you're
damn wrong." A twitch of Dan's arm when he leaned
further down, and Dima met his gaze, remaining calm.
"And I think you don't know anything of the real
" Dan's arm suddenly moved, faster
than Dima could have predicted, his fist connecting
that precisely with the other's temple, it knocked the
man out in the next instance. Dima's elbow relaxed,
head rolled to the side. Out like a light.
what the fuck do I do with you now
murmured, glancing around. He'd have how long for this?
Had got a bit rusty in kidnapping and other extortion,
but it had to be like riding a bike, aye? All he could
think of was the next small step ahead and that he had
to get that man out of this unsound building and away
from Vadim - whatever that meant and whyever he felt
it was necessary. Trying to think of a suitable place,
he shook his head at every idea that came to his mind,
until he finally grinned. That was it, the only place,
he'd just have to carry the guy for a while. Aching
knees or not.
quickly went through his pockets, the rifle beside him
on the ground, took his scarf off and cut it into strips,
quickly blindfolding the man. Wouldn't do him any good
to have ideas of where they were heading. He just had
to break the chain, and the rifle was the only way.
Standing. Aiming, thankful the man was still out, even
though he started to twitch, Dan fired a round into
the ground, which split the chain and freed the captive.
came back round, the gunshot tore him out of what might
have been sleep, and the first instinct was to get away,
roll away, reach for a weapon, all of these. Frantically
scrambling before he realized that he couldn't see,
then reaching for his eyes.
wouldn't do that." Dan's voice cut into the blindness,
and Dima stopped. "I still have the rifle in my
hands and it's trained on you. You want to take the
risk?" He waited a moment, but Dima shook his head.
"I'm going to take you to a safer place, you want
to walk or want me to carry you? I can knock you out
again, no problem. Your choice." His voice sounded
almost entirely uninterested.
of the frying pan ..." muttered Dima and raised
his hands, while getting to his feet. "I'll walk.
One headache's bad enough."
choice." Moving into he man's back, Dan picked
up the torch, slung the rifle across his back, and guided
Dima across the rubble with his hands on his shoulders.
Shoulders that were stiff, and Dima was slow to respond
at first, but eventually he took his clues from Dan's
hands, following the motions.
their way to the outside eventually, despite several
times of almost tripping and catching Dima when he lost
balance, and every time the medic cursed. Strings of
curses that almost seemed to mean nothing, more a habit
than actual anger.
manoeuvred them to the Landrover that had been parked
out of sight, and opened the door of the passenger seat.
"You manage to climb in?"
reached out and found the door. "Why don't you
just let me go? Why all the hassle? You keeping me for
keeping you out of shit until I know more." Helping
the other to climb in, Dan was quickly in the driver's
seat. Reaching across Dima's lap to close the door.
"As I said, I bet you don't know the story."
Starting the engine, he murmured to himself, "
I'm not even sure I know it either." They drove
off into the night, towards the direction of the camp.
shook his head, but he seemed glad he could sit and
move, and while Dan drove, he massaged his shoulders,
rolling them and kneading the muscles, working the ache
out of them. "You said 'faggot' ... are you his
lover?" Dima turned his face towards Dan. "He
told me he was homosexual."
that was a surprise to you?" Ignoring the first
part of the question.
There wasn't even a rumour about him. Never. Not that
I checked on that, but soldiers talk when they wait,
and we waited a lot in those days."
you did work together with him? Spetsnaz medic
I wonder if I ever came across you."
doubt it. One of us would have died. Turkey."
shrugged, "you wouldn't have known when I was really
close." His face hidden in darkness, while driving
towards the abandoned bunker close to the camp. Hiding
the man under everyone's nose - and most of all Vadim's
- was the best plan he'd had in a long time. Not that
he felt like any plans lately, but what the fuck. It
had to be done. "Congratulations, seems you didn't
count as suitable material, then."
laughed. "It would have been too fucking risky.
Out on patrol? With the fucking team leader? With comrade
captain Krasnorada? Oh please."
have no idea." Dan's face had turned grim, lips
pressed together, as he accelerated into a corner, tearing
the Lannie around that fast, it threw his passenger
against the side of the vehicle. A moment later and
he slammed the brakes, which made Dima shut up, and
brace himself with his arms.
Turning to the man, who listened attentively, face remaining
a studied mask. Despite his best attempts, Dima knew
Dan hadn't become some kind of buddy. Still very much
got two choices again. Walk with me, quietly, and lay
low in a safe place, while I get provisions, or make
a ruckus and face whatever shit someone like you might
face around here. Up to you, but it looks like I'm your
best chance at the moment."
about option three: let me go?" Dima inhaled. "Why
keep me as a captive at all? Especially since you don't
don't 'do' prisoners as in: I don't fuck them. Got that?
But that's all." Turning the ignition off and pocketing
the key for now. "Letting you go is not a fucking
option, because I have no fucking clue why you're here.
Getting an idea who you are, but that's not enough,
mate." Switching once more into Russian. "This
is a shit place, even good old me is getting that. And
letting an unknown factor loose into a pile of shit
is not a good idea. Got it?" And he needed to know,
why? Because hurt ran as deep as blood
and lust, but nothing ever reached as far down as the
love. Battered, broken, full of anger, but he'd been
through too much to give up on it. Not yet.
let's do the torture bit and be done with it",
said Dima, climbing out of the car. "I can't tell
you, and you need to know. I call that a conflict of
interest. Or is it that you weren't aware of me? And
you are still his lover? You are both here, that's not
a coincidence. I don't think it's jealousy. Just because
there were sexual acts committed ..." Dima shrugged.
"What's the problem?
one smart motherfucker, aye?" Back into English,
hopping from language to language with an old, worn-out
got top scores in the IQ test, 'mate'. Medics are smart
people. We have to be, because apart from the soldiering,
we actually need to know how the human body works. And
that's one complicated machine."
be getting along just hunky-dory with a friend of mine."
Jumping out of the vehicle, Dan swiftly stood once more
behind the other man, hands on his shoulders. The muscles
under his hands tensed. "The problem is I don't
know what the fuck is going on, other than blood soaked
kit and shots in the distance." His fingers tightened
in the shoulder muscles, which tensed even more, and
Dima tilted his head, as if to listen very closely for
whatever Dan would say next.
killing them. The chetniks. He walks like death and
cuts their throats." Dima said quietly.
hands twitched, until they were digging in so hard,
they had to be hurting. Giving far more away than ever
intended. The pause too long, too silent. "And
you, did you consent?" Voice dropped, body tense.
To them getting killed? Fuck, no."
Fuck, wrong question, and he'd lost the slot, impossible
to pursue. "Move." Gruffly, as he pushed the
other forward, none too gently, making Dima curse again
as his foot hit a stone and he nearly lost his balance,
but caught himself.
in silence towards the half overgrown entrance of the
small concrete bunker that was entirely stable, with
the iron door still intact. Dan had been there before,
recced the area, a mere stone throw away from the camp.
Yet the air slits would be too small to allow any sound
to travel far enough.
inside the building, Dima tensed again and walked slower,
doubtlessly hearing, that the building he'd entered
appeared sound-proof. Expecting the worst. It was a
good place to shoot somebody. He was sweating, but silent,
likely clinging to what life he had, or remembering,
or that hyper focused sensorial overload that undermined
stopped. The bunker itself was small, no more than a
square room, with some daylight through slits, which
provided fresh air. "Home sweet home." Dan's
calm voice a mockery of his thoughts. What the fuck
was he doing? But could it be any fucking worse than
a fucking madman out on what seemed to be a killing
rampage? What the fuck had happened to them, where had
the 'honeymoon' on Thailand vanished to, family and
friends in Scotland and France, and their home-to-be
in New Zealand? Was it all the bitch's fault?
be back in an hour." Dan didn't bother to take
the blindfold off, as he slipped out of his heavily
padded winter jacket. "Here." Draping it over
the other man's shoulder, "and I wouldn't try screaming,
it won't help." He turned towards the heavy iron
hands, still shackled, went up to take the blindfold
off. He glanced around, then at Dan, but shrugging into
the jacket that was still warm. "One hour? Don't
get killed." Captivity of a different kind, but
at least he could see, and move, and was reasonably
warm. Looking tired and worn after the battle with his
own fear, and after escaping from the other place.
too close to get killed." Dan flashed a humourless
grin before he vanished into the darkness, the iron
door shutting firmly behind him, wedging it shut. Running
back to the vehicle, he huffed against the cold, then
drove back into camp. Counting on Vadim still being
out, he signed the Landrover in and made his way to
the cookhouse, blagging his usual bag of sandwiches
at this time of night, with the leftover dessert on
under his arm, he made his way to the room he 'shared',
and the lights were out. It had to be true, then, and
he was going to find out what the fuck was going on
with Vadim, after he'd delivered the goods. Rolling
up the couple of extra blankets, Dan grabbed his bergan
that had his sleeping bag in the bottom, and stuffed
it full with the blankets, food, a couple of water bottles,
a torch and a stash of batteries. Rummaging around until
he found spare shaving kit in a tin, soap dish, towel,
and pulled out some old BDUs that Vadim particularly
disliked on him because they were too worn, and a pair
of socks, t-shirt and thick jumper. Holey but functional,
and his old paratrooper smock as well, which was warm
but faded so badly it hardly showed the camo anymore.
As an afterthought, taking a third bottle as well, securing
the whole lot on his back. He had to be on foot, couldn't
risk signing the vehicle out again, and he went for
his second jacket, even better padded than the first.
All the shit that Vadim had made him buy before they'd
gone to this damned country was coming in handy now.
jogging than walking towards the gates, he avoided anyone's
questions by making some stupid arsed jokes of a sweetheart
in town, and while no one believed him, he made his
way through without any further ado, and was on his
way to the bunker, no more than seven minutes away on
foot. Once he arrived, he pulled the door open with
all the swiftness and simultaneous care that a vertical
looked up, bleary-eyed, where he'd slept, huddled in
a corner, but stood immediately, surprised at seeing
Dan return - and laden with kit. "Okay. Explain.
What's going on? What the fuck do you want?"
obviously a reason why the hell Vadim locked you up."
Throwing the bergan onto the ground, Dan pulled out
the goods and laid them out. "And I'm going to
find out what the fuck's going on." Most importantly,
he pulled out the heavy tool he'd taken from the Landrover.
"You're a medic, aye? You tell me why the fuck
he's behaving like a madman." Brandishing the tool,
Dan pointed to the cuffs.
nodded, moving closer. "Madman? He's very much
like I know him ... okay, changed in a few ways, darker.
But he's always been fierce. Ten years ago, though,
he wouldn't have killed that side."
the man's hands down to have leverage, Dan slipped part
of the tool between metal and wrist, applying sudden
pressure, with Dima helping as best as he could by offering
resistance. A few groans later, the metal had snapped
apart. The cuffs had never been particularly safe in
the first place. "Does it matter in this godforsaken
place who to kill? Right now one side seems worse than
the other, but give them a chance and it's turned tables."
set to work on the second cuff. "And which side
would he have killed? Mujas and Turkeys, just
a shame he never killed this one here."
side he was ordered to kill. Of the old unit, only I'm
still active. One of us got his legs blown off by a
mine. I stabilised him, but with the missiles hitting
our helicopters, they had to bring him out by truck,
a dozen wounded in a car, across the mountains, and
I don't know whether he made it to Kabul. Well, I do
know, because he's never been in touch. I hope sometimes
he was just too ashamed of losing a good half meter
of height ..." Dima shook his head. "Doesn't
matter. We're all just meat."
to get the second cuff off, Dan placed the tool far
enough away so it couldn't be used as a makeshift weapon.
"He was more than meat." He shrugged, but
the casual attitude was not convincing. "Anyway,
I got you clothes and water, and enough food to last.
You find a sleeping bag and extra blankets, torch and
batteries. Got you my old safety razor as well, you
look like shit and frankly, you could do with a wash
and a change of kit. I'll be back tomorrow after night
shift." Stashing the tool back in the empty bergan,
"and I need my jacket back, too obvious otherwise."
He held out his hand to the other man, who didn't make
any movement, instead looked at him with those mottled
can see you've given this quite a bit of thought, 'mate'.
And that does take care of me ... all basic needs met,
for the moment, anyway. But why you're doing this escapes
me. You have good reason to think I'm a chetnik, and
I can't prove otherwise ..." leaving that deliberately
ambivalent. "And now you keep me like a guest almost,
a guest that can't leave because your side would take
him prisoner and do God knows what with him. Okay. That's
the bottom line. Why do you do that? Why do you feel
responsibly for Vadim's 'prisoner'?"
hand fell back down to his side. "You're not chetnik.
You worked with Vadim, back in Afghanistan. A spetsnaz
a good working hypothesis."
shook his head slowly. "I'm forty-three years old.
Perhaps I'm just sick and fucking tired of deaths that
are too damned pointless. Perhaps I just dabbled too
much in the civilian world, friends and family and all
that goddamned shit that I had always tried to stay
clear of before, to make it easier to walk back into
the shitholes." He shrugged, strangely uncaring
about anything he admitted to right now. "And let
me tell you that, you chose the worst possible affiliation
at this moment in time and place, that you could have
nodded. "I'm forty-four, for three weeks yet."
He was silent for a while, mulling it over, or just
allowed the words to settle. "Random acts of kindness,
then. That's as good an explanation as any other."
He reached over and began to idly rifle through the
'gifts' Dan had brought, spread out the blankets and
sleeping bag, every motion smooth and rehearsed a hundred
thousand times. Dima pulled the tin closer, while Dan
just stood and watched, strangely reluctant to leave,
as the other poured water in the tin and washed his
face, and, as there was plenty of water, his short hair,
too. The original colour must have been dark brown,
but it was shot through with so much grey it was more
salt-and-pepper. "You know", he murmured.
"I'd be glad for some company. Being a prisoner
is boring as hell, and my head hurts."
Looking around, Dan settled on leaning against a wall.
The dammed cold seemed to freeze up his joints. "I
got painkillers in the inside pocket of my jacket."
Adding with a dry huff that harboured some hints of
humour. "The one you are still wearing and which
is getting wet right now."
grinned and slipped out of the jacket, brushing the
water aside with his hand, like he'd smooth a kid's
school uniform. "Painkillers? Your knees are that
bad?" Casual, while he dried his face on one of
the blankets, and then ran a handful of water over his
you. You medical types are all the same." Dan groaned
and rolled his eyes. "I'm alright, I can keep going
for a while longer. It's just the damned cold."
He shrugged and almost believed himself. Had to, no
other option, was all the life he knew and had and ever
wanted. No. Wrong. Had wanted Vadim, but
cold makes it worse. I know. I am getting arthritis
in my fingers. See?" Dima held up a hand. "The
way some of the joints are swollen? It's an inflammation.
I can imagine. Must be shit as a medic."
felt around his face, and shaved, guided by his hands
and experience from too many wars, clearing the grey
and brown stubble out of his face, cheeks first. He
glanced at Dan before he got to the chin. "'Dima'
is for Dmitri, by the way. I figured you probably know
that, speaking Russian as well as you do."
but good you remind me, was starting to wonder if I'd
caught the name right." Tilting his head, Dan watched
the blind shaving effort. "I'd offer to help in
the awkward places, just depends on how paranoid you
laughed wryly. "It's messy killing somebody with
a safety razor, and you stand to gain nothing by soaking
your blankets in blood." He swiped the razor in
the water, then offered it, dripping, to Dan.
me, I had much better reasons to kill the man I shaved
than I have now." Tipping the other's face back
with the tips of two fingers on Dima's chin, Dan concentrated
on the task.
tilted his head to make things easier, looking past
him, the specks in his eyes had a strange copper colour.
No visible tension in his body, no mistrust, just calm.
"Oh? That's the usual treatment for your prisoners?"
chuckled dryly, but his gaze got caught in those weird
eyes for a moment. "It was, once upon a time, something
as crazy as over ten years ago." Cleaning the razor
before starting again on another part of the throat,
taking his time to run the razor along the skin.
kept his face straight because of the razor, but his
lips twitched. He had very different features to Vadim,
less Russian, in a way, and less handsome.
a while." Dan murmured, as he continued his task.
raised his chin to allow Dan access to his throat once
more, swallowing only when Dan had lifted the razor
to swipe it in the water. "Shaving, or something
Dan finished his task, turning Dima's face left and
right, satisfied with the result, he dropped the razor
and let go of the chin. "Done."
wiped his face on the towel, then looked at Dan, a much
different man to the dusty guy Dan had knocked out,
meeting at least some very basic standards of hygiene.
He stood, then began to undress, peeling the dirty,
grimy uniform off his body, with the same ease as if
he was changing in the barracks, among dozens of comrades.
He was more stocky than the athletic Vadim, the same
salt-and-pepper tone on the hair on his chest and the
glory trail. No tattoos, no dramatic scars that became
visible, just one on his belly that was likely ancient,
and in the same location where everybody had it who'd
got their appendix removed; a good, healthy body. He
washed with just a few handfuls of water and soap, keeping
clean, devoting the proper attention to the task, while
Dan simply stood and watched. As much interest or as
little as watching his team mates shower.
your old shit, you never know."
I'm just sick of the smell." Dima glanced down
at the pile for a moment, then continued with the task,
in silence for a while, before speaking again. "Vadim
Petrovich had the reputation for being a hard bastard,
the kind that doesn't go native. He hated the Afghans,
while other officers would strike a truce or sometimes
found a way to coexist. Good leader, inspiring. Great
personal courage, cunning, and clever enough not to
speak his mind. I've seen many soldiers get sent to
the army psychiatric ward for speaking their mind or,
God beware, protest against an officer. Vadim Petrovich
was clever enough, never got involved in the politicking,
always keeping his own counsel. I sometimes thought
he was too perfect, like he was compensating something,
you know what I mean? But up there, you couldn't mistrust
somebody for too long. The mountains don't allow that.
They make brothers out of men. Or, in some cases, more."
Dima rinsed the tin with a bit of water and straightened.
you?" Dan's face still as neutral. "More?"
I didn't guess he was that way ... inclined. He got
the regular letters from his wife, I knew he had kids,
and he was my superior officer. But I heard stories,
a while back. About his trial. In fact, my superior
officer asked me whether I'd noticed anything untoward.
As if I'd be a witness against him." Dima shook
his head. "The functionaries didn't get it. The
soldier thing. Vadim Petrovich could have done far,
far worse things, and I wouldn't have spoken about it.
He was my superior, and I always felt loyal. After seeing
other superiors, how they'd scheme and bribe, dodge
the unpleasant parts of their duties, I couldn't possibly
have given them something to beat him with. That is
not how it works."
smiled briefly. Loyalty was still something that meant
the fucking world to him.
reached over to begin dressing in the clothes Dan had
brought. "But since you were asking, yes, the sexual
encounter was with Vadim. There was another one, back
in the farmhouse, at night, two or three days back."
hurt, but Dan wasn't going to show it, or at least he
tried. But did it surprise him? No. The bitch had done
good work, had destroyed everything. He wondered if
she was happy now. "So, you never knew that Vadim
was gay? And what the fuck did they tell you about his
just thought they were trying to destroy his pride.
If you make something like that stick, it's like a bad
smell, no way he could wash that off. Spetsnaz. Such
a male thing, being tough and all that. I remember thinking
that it must be something personal when they used that
angle. They tried to destroy his reputation, his friendships,
the same loyalty that was still holding things together.
Seems it worked with several others. If they'd have
taken too much of an interest, they would have risked
their own reputation. When he was charged, I was shocked,
but I had some personal matters to deal with ... my
brother was dying at that time. It's not an excuse,
or maybe it is. Moscow was a long way away." Dima
slipped into the warm jumper and draped one of the blankets
around his shoulders.
Dan said dryly, "guess no one could spare the time,
back then." He turned away, busying himself with
his empty bergan because fuck it, he wanted to strangle
that man. Taking a moment to get over the urge.
I didn't want them to look too closely at my life."
lifting his head, Dan's voice came from the corner,
still busy with whatever non existent content was in
his pack. "And what would they have found?"
lot of one night stands with men." Dima looked
up, with irony. "I thought he was innocent, but
I was guilty."
straightened, turned to finally look the other in the
eye. "Vadim was innocent, he never divulged
any information to me and neither did I to him, not
through nine years in that dusty hell. But he was 'guilty'
aye, for what. Sex? Love? Lust? What-the-fuck-ever."
Dan shrugged, was hard to keep the façade up.
figured. The only way to see anything going on in your
face is to speak about him." Dima gave a smile,
and Dan shook his head. Guilty as charged, but he'd
known that all along.
" Dima mused, "that depends
a lot on many, many factors. It's what they thought,
they set the rules. Sleeping with men was wrong and
illegal, I thought he hadn't broken that rule or law,
but I had. So I did worry about myself first. Plus,
I thought he'd get protection, so when he was actually
found 'guilty', that was when I was getting really worried."
Dima sat down, put fresh socks on and his face betrayed
that simple pleasure of having clean, dry feet again.
I guess that must have been worrying." Dan was
leaning against the wall, " I was out of the Forces
by then." His face twitched, "would have given
everything I had to get him out, in fact I did, but
I guess it was too late." Pushing himself off the
wall, he put on a fake grin. "C'est la vie, eh?
And isn't it ironic that you shagged blokes but never
realised Vadim would have been fair game."
studied Dan closely. "He sometimes had that expression
in his face, a strange kind of smile, too, like somebody
has who's fallen in love. I misinterpreted that. And
it's nothing you'd talk about to him. He didn't talk
about that kind of thing."
suddenly laughed, dry, and humourless. "You might
even have been only a few steps away, when I fucked
him right on patrol. Up there in the fucking mountains."
inhaled sharply, what that thought did to him was anybody's
guess "You fucked him ... I can imagine that. Strange.
I'd have never thought he'd let a man do that, but I
was wrong about other things. Well, I didn't. It was
a hand job on the farm."
farm? Is it where he 'found' you?" Emphasis on
the one word, and Dan knew he'd given too much of his
hurt away, the way his face was trying so hard to keep
neutral and so utterly failing.
He walked right in, I saw him first, and I swear to
God, he lowered his gun - not in greeting, but to not
shoot me. I didn't get that part, not at first, but
I told the other guys that he was a friend, just like
me. I vouched for him. They accepted that, I guess they
didn't want to piss off the medic by shooting his old
comrade. That night, we caught up on some stuff, and
I ... I was curious, and I guess I made a move. He'd
changed so much, and not at all. Next thing I know,
next morning, I'm tied up like a goose and Vadim stands
in the room, covered in blood. I knew he'd killed each
and every single one of them. In their beds, on guard,
playing cards. He'd killed the whole band. Fifteen men
Dan moved away from the wall like a bullet. Hands clenched
into fists, he was strumming with a sickening energy
he couldn't dispel. "When was that?" Concentrating
hard to string logical words together, his dark eyes
so intense, they could belong to a madman.
best guess is about three days ago. My only thought
was, how lucky I was to be still alive. I was scared
of him. Then him messing with my head, keeping me in
that boiler-room ... and then what he did, the ... well,
sex. Like he meant something else, but he never said
it. And then you, and my fucking head still hurts, well,
and that's the whole story. What you wanted to know."
what you don't know is that Vadim is fucked up
alright. You're a medic, how much do you know about
trauma? He was tortured by the KGB, and he's ... functional,
more than that, he was ... was ... fuck!" Dan slammed
his fist into his own thigh.
Slowly. Give me the story slowly."
happened, beyond my control, and he's gone off the rails.
I only found out when I discovered the blood soaked
kit. He won't talk to me, won't touch, won't
shook his head. "No." Won't nothing, nothing
as bad as it had ever been. Worse. "I need
to find him and stop this madness. I know his shrink,
I got to get him to that guy. He's in England, but
Shaking his head again, fuck. "I just got to find
him when he's out there, and confront him."
down. Breathe. Trauma, you say? We called it 'nervous
breakdown? After almost two years of torture? You must
be fucking kidding me."
The beauty of Communist logic. I could tell you stories
... and maybe one day I will." Dima thought for
a while, then looked at Dan. "Vadim Petrovich having
a 'nervous breakdown' is a really bad thought."
He inhaled deeply, then rummaged through Dan's coat
pocket, checked the label of the painkillers and swallowed
two pills dry. "I'll help you stop him." Pausing,
incredulous at his own words. "That should be the
best thing for him. My guess is, he's running away from
something. Coping by not coping, you know what I mean?"
know too well what you mean. After all, I'm the one
who didn't know what the fuck to do about his nightmares."
Dan looked away, rummaging in his pocket for fags, offering
them to the other, almost in an afterthought, and Dima
pulled one free, nodding his thanks.
return to where he left me, unless he gets shot first.
I could talk some sense into him? One spetsnaz to the
other? Or we bundle him off to that 'shrink' of yours.
Vadim, in this state, is not fighting fit. He might
think fighting is what he wants to do, and sanity and
war don't really match at all, come to think of it,
but there's normal insane and insane insane. And that
calm maniacal way he stood there, the blood running
down his chest ... that's something I don't want to
see again. That's something that I don't want to see
him do. He always was a decent human being, a
good officer. He's not coping." Dima frowned. "Thinking
about it, I'm not quite sure about ..." He shook
his head. "We all go insane, definitely in this
what?" Dan focused only onto the one thing.
own sanity, but never mind." Dima nodded pointedly
at the cigarette. "Light?"
I see." Dan nodded, lighting first the other's
fag, then his own. Pulling the nicotine deep into his
lungs. "I got to do this myself. Facing him. But
whatever happens, you won't rot here. I'm beyond that
..." Dima didn't look happy about it, but he accepted
it at face value. "You going to tell somebody I'm
locked up here, then?"
nodded, "I will. Chances are, though, that someone
will investigate this place anyway, too close to the
camp, but I'll tell my surgeon mate. He's French, a
bastard, and works for the French embassy in Belgrade.
Only happy when the shit really hits the fan."
Dan huffed dryly, "but we have to find a good story
for you, or you'll get fucked sideways after all. You
haven't told me, why the fuck are you here anyway? And
why on that most unfortunate side of all? Don't you
give a damn about what the fuck's happening here? No
one in their right mind can turn much of a blind eye."
Adding, while taking another drag, "least of all
seen it. This war isn't easy. It's not easy at all ...
I was sent ... here, and while certain, more legal,
factions were sitting tight and the whole place goes
to hell, some people go out there and fight. They do
other things, too, but they also fight. I was getting
stir-crazy, so I sought them out and ... joined one
of the bands. It's keeping people alive, that's my job.
Soldiers. Or irregulars, many are just civilians with
a rifle. I don't buy their reasons, but there are many
reasons for this. Cleaning up a mess by removing the
people. It's not unique. It happened in other places.
We did very similar things in the South of Afghanistan,
against the Pashtuns. Their kishlaks, their villages
... There were campaigns to clear certain areas. It's
everybody locked in a struggle to the death. But there
is no white or black here. It's all grey. And I'm too
busy to think much. When somebody gets shot or blown
up, all I'm thinking is to plug the holes and remember
who has what type of blood, and patch them up so they
make it to a proper surgeon or hospital. That's all
I'm doing. It's easy to lose everything else."
you still do this shit despite your age?"
the last one. This war. But I'll finish it. I don't
blew the smoke across the small room, eyes wide and
dark, and entirely too intense. "You haven't seen
enough of it yet? Have you seen them rape, bash heads
in and watch the half-dead corpses crawl and wail, while
they laugh and piss on them? Have you seen them slaughter
families, and torture kids and women and boys, just
because they bloody well can?"
inhaled and looked away. "I'm usually not ... directly
there. I don't watch it if I don't have to. I can't
help them. There's nothing I can do. I have to concentrate
on the stuff that I can do."
shook his head, chucked the cigarette butt onto the
floor. "Whatever. This place fucks anyone up."
should rest", murmured Dima. "Get some shuteye.
You're quite clearly exhausted."
try to bullshit me. I'd still kick anyone's arse if
I had to. Exhausted? You have no fucking idea what exhausted
don't?" Dima shook his head. "If you've kept
a man alive for two fucking days after digging a bullet
out of his perforated guts, we talk exhaustion again.
maybe you do." Dan shook his head once more, but
stooped to get his jacket. "I'll be going after
Vadim tomorrow night. Will get you food and stuff in
the meantime. If I don't return
just wait for
the cavalry, aye?"
hand closed around Dan's wrist and he pulled him closer.
"Don't ..." He shut up, looking angry, at
the same time clenched his teeth hard and let him go,
like something hot or dangerous, unable or unwilling
to complete the sentence.
shook his head. "I should have brought something
to read", he murmured, not meeting Dan's gaze.
Dan commented, almost kindly. "And I don't fucking
read, so tough luck, but at least there's a packet of
tissues in the jacket pocket so you can shit."
He was about to turn, when he suddenly stopped, remembered,
and looked at the other with an odd intensity. "If
I don't come back
remember one thing: you're
a Soviet soldier, you were sent here, you were captured
but you don't know by whom." Dan shrugged, when
Dima looked incredulously at him. "unless you're
desperate to get back to Mother Russia, you stick to
that story." Shrugged again, "anyway, if you
don't stick to it my mate can't help you. Remember that?
You got to be official."
short, I have the choice between deserting and ... being
tried for war crimes? Is that it?"
be stupid. No one needs to know what the fuck you actually
did. You think Vadim's going to blow the whistle on
where and with whom he found you? Mother Russia sent
you off to this hellhole, and you did what you could,
saving lives, no idea for whom, and then you got kidnapped
and mistreated, and fuck, you have no idea by whom,
... a nice, clean way out." Dima was sceptical,
but thinking about it, beginning to think, and he'd
have hours and hours more to think about it.
around the room, Dan pointed to his kit, "and if
it's my mate who is going to 'find' you, get rid of
my crap, will you?"
I don't know why, the stuff could be anyone's, but sure.
nodded, "I'll be back tomorrow. Swapped the nightshift
with the day shift, but Vadim doesn't know. We share
a room, but
" Dan shook his head, "doesn't
know anything anymore, I guess. If I'm not back the
night after, you'll be picked up, I vouch for that.
Just stick to the story." With that he moved to
the door, wielding it open, to slip through.
followed to the door, but stayed out of threat range,
seemingly torn for a moment, his face somewhat pinched,
but compared to how he'd been found, this was a massive
improvement. "I'll stick to the story", he
said, by way of goodbye, then turned away, not wanting
to see or hear how the door would be closed or wedged
woke after a leaden sleep that had eventually felt like
it had grown more and more fitful. Unconscious like
a stone, then the feeling of being trapped asleep, and
he awoke without feeling rested, well before he had
to. For a good half hour, he just couldn't get up, just
lay there, staring at the ceiling, thinking and feeling
nothing but the vague desire to sleep on, but this time,
he got up, shaved, showered, dressed, boots, breakfast
- or rather, the first meal of the day; as expected,
Dan wasn't in yet, and he had plenty of time, so he
hurried to make it to the shelled building, grabbing
more water than he needed, another 24hr MRE, and soon
picked his way through the rubble, torch light dancing
in front of him. The place smelled of a human being,
that stale smell that just stood out despite the dust
and the oil and grime; strange, really, it reminded
him of his training, when he'd learnt to trust those
senses that civilians rarely used - smell, taste, touch.
closer, he softly called out Dima's name to not startle
the man. No answer. Asleep? Vadim came closer, turned
the last corner, light hitting the general area where
Dima had to be - and wasn't.
a long moment, he didn't comprehend what he saw - or
didn't see, but there was no Dima. Vadim knelt on the
ground, saw a broken chain link lie next to the boiler.
Nothing had been taken, the blanket was still there,
but cold. No other trace. There was one bullet cartridge,
but no blood. He checked that again, but it didn't smell
of blood, either. So the chain had been shot through.
Dima hadn't been killed. Or, correction, hadn't been
killed here. It was impossible that the medic had freed
himself. Otherwise he'd have done it long ago. Dima
wasn't one for waiting. And he'd likely, in this weather,
would have taken the blanket.
stared at the place, fought rising bile at the thought
that somebody had taken Dima away and - judging from
what was going on in this crazy place - killed him.
Chetniks? Mercs? Who else was here, close enough, who
else did this kind of thorough scouting. Dima gone.
Vadim felt his hands clench into fists, his mind was
a jumble of thoughts that didn't want to calm nor settle.
matter. He had to work. Officially, Dima wasn't here,
had never been here, that meant that he couldn't look
for him and try to find the body or track him. Maybe
they had shot him upstairs? He walked back out, went
through the part of the school that was still mostly
stable, all the places where he would have shot a prisoner.
No body. No smell of blood.
checked the time. He'd be late if he didn't head back
now. Gritting his teeth, he stopped the search and headed
back. Being late could lead to questions he wasn't prepared
to answer. But work was hell, he found it hard to focus,
kept thinking of Dima pressed against him, his cock
sliding in and out of his hand, how they'd touched with
ease, but nothing more, a friendly handjob between comrades.
The thought that Dima was dead was unbearable.
had returned to the camp and the room he shared without
sharing, at exactly the same time that he would return
if he were on shift. Vadim was gone, as expected. He
wasn't sure if Vadim was deliberately avoiding him,
or if it just happened. More bearable that way, perhaps,
but it never stopped hurting like a motherfucker, every
time he stepped into the room and the beds were pushed
apart - as far as possible.
took a shower, smoked a fag in the room, despite or
because he knew how much Vadim disliked the smell of
nicotine. A petty gesture, and Dan felt even worse for
it. He was trying to sleep for a long time, knowing
he'd have to be alert at night, but the thoughts were
chasing one another in his head, hardly able to relax
enough to drop off. With the noise of the camp, he gave
up around lunchtime, got into his clothes to eat in
the cookhouse with several others, and pondered if he
should go and see his surgeon mate, but decided against
it. Looking dead tired on his feet, he managed to share
a few jokes with some of the other guys, before heading
back to his room to try that elusive sleep thing again.
his bed, smoking another fag, he pulled out the photos,
the ones that had caused the whole damned shit he was
in, but he couldn't stop looking at them. Strange, how
he didn't feel any anger towards that impishly grinning
kid, while he hated the mother and would gladly rip
that bitch's throat out.
eventually rolled over, the blankets above his head
shutting out the light, he kept thinking of the notice
to send to Maurice, to make sure he'd understand, without
cocking it all up. At some stage, without having found
the solution, Dan fell asleep.
opened the door. First thing, the smoke. Cigarette.
He shook his head, but that thing that was building
up inside, that fear and worry and nervousness, the
need to find out what had happened to Dima - the smoke
seemed trivial compared to that. He dropped his kit,
knew Dan was awake anyway, so he didn't try to be very
silent about it, no way Dan had slept through him entering
the room, but there was no stir. Vadim didn't rummage
around for the shower kit, instead found the black camos
and changed, swiftly, efficiently. He needed to go out
and try and find Dima. Or tracks of him. Or any sign,
any message that he'd left behind, wittingly or unwittingly.
Maybe he hadn't checked the place enough. His face was
dark with anger and worry, and as always, he avoided
looking at Dan. Last thing he needed was a set of questions
he wouldn't answer anyway. He didn't have to justify
himself. What for?
remained silent and tense beneath the blanket. Wondering,
knowing, yet saying nothing. He had an idea where Vadim
was heading to, but he remained under the blanket and
did nothing. Too hard to talk to that stranger, who
had barely any resemblance to the Vadim he loved, not
even to the man who had stepped out of a car in Finland.
Least of all to the man around whom he'd slept wrapped
in silence, hardly breathing, until Vadim left the room,
and even then he stayed still for a while longer. After
ten minutes, and no Vadim returning, Dan sat up and
the first thing he did was light another fag. He had
to find a way to let Maurice know, but damn, he still
didn't have a failsafe plan, despite the promises to
the Russian medic.
be helped, and that meant he wasn't able to follow Vadim
that night, instead he was going to take supplies to
the bunker. Wondering, too, how long it would take anyone
else to find the bunker, its entrance hidden beneath
some bushes, and if, once they had, they would check
it out. He had to be realistic. It wouldn't take too
many nights for Vadim to find the place, if he continued
to get out there, and Dan got ready, kitted himself
up as if he were going on duty, and headed towards the
cookhouse. Ladling extra portions onto his plate, which
he slipped into a carrier bag, he got some sandwiches
made, picking up chocolate bars from the shop they had
access to, and whatever else he could think of and might
be useful. He even blagged a flask with coffee from
the kitchen maid, who kept flirting with him, despite
knowing he would never be interested. Packing his bergan
once more, Dan headed out of camp and towards the bunker.
No weapons this time, only his trusted knife but he
didn't have a chit to get himself clearance that night,
and he couldn't afford to draw attention.
was soon at the bunker, calling out Dima's name before
pulling the door open.
made an affirmative sound, and repeated it in case the
other hadn't heard, but continued to do his press-ups.
The boredom was bad and had been bad, but at least he
could move, and that meant exercise. Having arranged
the insides of the bunker as much as possible - one
corner for hygiene, another for the human waste, another
to sleep, and this one was the exercise area. Almost
as good as a nice flat. He kept pushing, lowering, pushing
up again, shirt in his back had a dark sweat patch,
and raised his head when Dan entered and closed the
door behind him. Doing a few more until the burn set
in, then smoothly pulled his legs under himself and
make a good wife." Dan commented dryly but with
an unmistakable grin on his lips. "I fear this
place still needs some more homely touches, though."
He put the bergan down, once again full to bursting,
as if he expected Dima's stay to continue for a while
looked at the bergan, then back to Dan. "You mean
because I'm organized and tidy?"
or because I'm just a sucker for cracking stupid-arsed
looked around, then back at the bergan. "Change
of plan? How long are you keeping me like this?"
have no idea, but I figured you'd be stir crazy by now
anyway, so I got you some stuff." Pulling out several
used carrier bags, "figured you needed something
to get rid of your shit." He grinned, "literally."
bars, sandwiches and water followed, then the hot food,
still warm. Dragging a shaggy pillow out of the backpack,
Dan flashed that odd grin again, "while I doubt
you'll be hugging it, thinking of me, I had a spare."
shook his head, but smiled. "I'm not really a hugger."
grinned, "doesn't surprise me." Feeling strangely
relaxed around that man, who he didn't know at all.
The last of the goodies were a couple of newspapers
he'd got from the shop, a packet of fags, and finally
a bottle of Vodka. "And don't accuse me of being
is great. You can disinfect just about anything with
vodka." Dima nodded, exhaling deeply. "Nicest
jailer I've ever had", he murmured, grinning, and
ran a hand over his hair, smoothing the short hair towards
his face, the most Russian of all haircuts.
keeping you out of shit." Dan watched the movement
of the hand, then back to the bottle. "Frankly,
I don't know what the fuck to do with you, not with
Vadim around. I'd take you to the authorities to try
and get a working permit, just as I explained yesterday,
" he shrugged. "Things aren't that
straightforward with Vadim around, and I don't understand
jack shit anymore when it comes to him. He fucking ..."
He suddenly shut up and shrugged again. "Whatever.
You want some? Guess you won't get deadly killer germs
by sharing a bottle of plonk, aye?"
had listened attentively, and it took a second before
he reacted to the question. "You're welcome. HIV
isn't really an issue when sharing vodka, and apart
from that, I'd be more worried in your case because
I've actually dealt with a lot of corpses. There's stuff
living in my skin's flora that can be really unpleasant.
It happens, part of the medical profession. And not
an issue unless we should have messy sex. And I don't
do messy. Too much risk. I've seen too many infected
cocks in my life to ever get frisky under unsafe conditions.
Syphilis isn't pretty, you know?"
laughed out loud, unscrewing the bottle. "First,
I was amongst rotting corpses, buried beneath
them, until Vadim pulled me out, half-dead and more
than three-quarters insane. Second, I keep getting myself
tested and condoms are your friend, aye? Third, who
the fuck said we'd have sex anyway? Not on my agenda,
forget it." He shrugged, put the bottle half-way
to his lips, "and fourth, haven't had syphilis
nor any other shit and no intention to do so in my old
age. Fleas and nits were enough. Cheers." Tipping
his head back to down a rather large mouthful of vodka.
Shuddering when he was done.
war story." Dima stepped closer to take the bottle
from Dan's hand, as easily and calmly as if they were
friends. "You go off to war to experience things,
something out of the ordinary, and then you can't tell
the stories because people wouldn't believe it or are
and when you tell them to the younger kids, they just
want the boring old fart to piss off."
clearly your decadent Western youth ..."
flashed a grin while Dima drank, deeply, eyes closing
briefly, and remaining standing right where he was,
in touching distance, then handed the bottle back, giving
a grin that revealed once more those crooked eye teeth.
"Actually, I went because I was sleeping with the
son of somebody important and people were starting to
ask questions. I'd done my two years, had begun to study
medicine, then dropped everything to reenlist. They
called it patriotism. I only wanted to get away from
a pair of hazel eyes."
"So, you gay? That simple? And you worked with
Vadim and neither realised you could have had a safe
shag?" Taking the bottle, Dan downed another shot.
sat down and started to examine the food, trying the
selection, then settled on the sandwiches for the moment,
eating slowly, thinking, and then responding: "Do
categories like 'gay' actually help organize our understanding
of human sexuality? I've had women, too, but there's
less opportunity in my line of work, and apart from
that, I'm not too sure these days I accept that category.
If I say I'm gay that means I cannot be aroused by women
or anything else, right? Is that helpful? I don't think
so. Arousal is a fairly complex thing. Many people masturbate
when they're bored, not because they're aroused."
you have to pull that deep-thinking crap on me, don't
you?" Despite his words, Dan grinned and shrugged.
"I don't care. I have a friend who's straight,
he thinks, but that's bullshit. He's all sorts of things,
not just one. I used to shag girls, way back, the first
thirty-two years of my life. Nowadays?" Dan was
about to say 'no', but then he remembered the picture
of a kid with his hair and his eyes and who knew what
else. "Not by choice."
spot on. We're all kinds of things. We're sexual creatures.
There's hormones, and situational stimuli, and the mind
that can give us all kinds of troubles. Healthy men
can stop getting aroused by a thousand factors, and
sometimes we get turned on by things that wouldn't have
interested us a while back. It's fluid. 'Homosexual'
or 'heterosexual' doesn't help at all. I sometimes have
the feeling that these terms are political more than
medical." Dima poured himself some of the steaming
coffee, regarding Dan over the rim of the cup as he
It's all about what you consider yourself to be."
Dan shrugged, downed more of the vodka, before handing
the bottle back, "but labelling helps. Makes it
easier somehow, at least for me."
if it helps you, I'm 'mostly gay'." Dima continued,
"Vadim ... was, most of all, my superior officer.
Yes, I find him attractive, and I think I always did,
on some level, but I didn't constantly think of having
sex with him, because he was my officer and we had a
lot of other things to worry about. Even if I had known,
I wouldn't have moved on him ... it's too complicated,
too many problems. Nevertheless, he aroused me."
Dima regarded Dan, drinking again. Not wiping the bottle
before drinking, either.
could say that. I didn't have a choice, though."
Dan looked towards the 'sleeping place', eager to sit.
The cold was getting into his joints.
sit down. My 'house' is your house." Dima glanced
at him. "No choice?"
looked up, while sitting down, not the most elegant
of movements. Not in this cold anyway. "Let's say
it just happened, aye?"
narrowed things down, really, but Dima didn't blink,
just paused, looking at Dan's movements while he sat
down. He moved closer, into the space he began to call
'the bedroom' in his mind, and settled in next to Dan,
offering the bottle and unwrapping another sandwich.
Eating it with a few large bites, chewing, then swallowing.
"Part of what I like about my job? I never know
what happens next." Leaning back, placing a hand
on Dan's shoulder, a firm touch meant to calm. "It's
all about going with the flow. Feeling something alive
respond, weaken, or become stronger as a result of something
feeling me up?"
not hearing shouts of indignation", said Dima.
but if you were thinking about sex, forget it. Last
thing on my mind." Dan cast a grin over his shoulder,
the vodka was kicking in, and fuck it was good. Similar
to sitting and talking to Maurice, but with a more comfortable
component. Maybe it was the 'Russianness'. Taking another
mouthful of vodka. "It took us a few years of fucking
before we realised the love thing." Dan shrugged,
twisting, to hand the bottle back.
ran his other hand up Dan's back, a firm touch, like
checking the position of the spine and vertebrae. "Was
that a shock or a pleasant surprise?"
but then again, as far as I remember I was weary as
death by the time I 'got it'. Kind of made sense, then.
Only took us six years of shagging at every possible
opportunity, before we kissed." Dan huffed and
shook his head. "Nothing's easy with that bastard."
He wasn't really that different, but couldn't be arsed
admitting to it.
imagine. Vadim would wear his mask, and I can't imagine
falling in love with him would be easy on the best of
days." Dima continued to touch, slow, firm, conscious
motions. Back, shoulders, then to the neck, massaging
it, stroking, matter-of-fact, somehow, while Dan remained
silent. Nothing he could add, because he'd lost Vadim
to a distance he couldn't breach. Never a chance, not
given one, and assumed the worst. As if. But he was
no fucking victim and he wouldn't bloody talk. The truth
was a whore, after all, he'd learned that some years
ran his fingers into Dan's hair, splayed fingers cupping
the back of Dan's head, as if supporting a weight that
was growing too heavy. His other hand back to Dan's
shoulder, and Dan couldn't help but allow himself to
relax a little. "Are you trying to seduce me?"
He craned his neck, searching for the other's face.
gave a laugh. "'Seduce' is an interesting word
... what about 'arouse'?"
think you could use some relaxation ... You're tense
and exhausted, you probably haven't slept much, and
you don't seem to respond to much else."
Dan huffed with dry laughter that was lacking in humour,
and took a deep breath. "What would you be like,
if your lover of twelve years, after more shit than
'normal' people can imagine, turned into a raging madman.
Twelve years, including two and a half years apart with
torture and prison and mock execution. And after that,
more love and lust than you can shake a goddamned stick
at, sleeping every night curled around and close. And
that lover beats you into a pulp and almost kills you
when he loses it, because his ex-wife sends you a pic
of your two year old daughter you knew nothing about,
because the bitch blackmailed you into fucking her as
a convenient sperm donor, when you came to beg her to
deliver a last message to your lover before he was executed.
And now he goes round as a killing machine, refusing
to even look at you, let alone touch you, because he
never gave you a fucking chance, and because he believes
you committed the greatest betrayal against him - while
in reality you were fucking used by a fucking cunt,
who'd be pissing herself with laughter if she knew what's
going on now." Dan let out a breath he didn't have
spare. "So, what would you be like? Guess you'd
be tense as well, aye?" He didn't give a flying
fuck that he'd spilled the beans, because he couldn't
hold that shit in anymore. Should have called Maggie,
or Jean, should have talked, should have
moved against him, body to body, one hand on Dan's chest,
the other still on the shoulder. "Let go. Don't
think about it." His lips suddenly connecting to
Dan's neck, who huffed at first, then almost jerked
when Dima's lips opened to bare teeth. The little bite
gentle, tender, a slow, sucking half-kiss, moving up
the muscle towards Dan's ear, "let it go, just
for a little while. Doesn't help if you break under
that strain. That helps nobody ..." hands moving
across Dan's chest, firm, almost like a massage of his
pecs, and Dima's voice became husky. "... won't
help you sort the situation out. That kind of mess needs
a clear, rested mind."
head came up, looking at the other. "And what's
it to you?" Not quite there yet, not quite ready
to lie down and bare his throat. He'd been fucked up
too badly since that letter arrived.
might be saving my life", said Dima, not looking
at Dan. "You got me out of that hole, you gave
me back most of my dignity, and I get the feeling you're
a decent guy."
about the first," Dan's voice sounded rough, "the
second's up to you, but I go with the third as a good
reason." He lowered himself down to the ground
on the blankets, forcing some of the tension out.
smiled down at him, got on top, over Dan on his hands
and knees. Kissing his throat again, teeth scraping
against stubble, and he sat down on Dan's groin, shifting
his weight back on top of Dan as he lowered his head
again to suck on the beginning of a shoulder. "Relax.
I won't run away ... yet." A crooked grin, teeth
tracing Dan's jawbone now, breath touching Dan's cheek.
run." It had been too long, over
a month, and Dan was only now starting to realise how
pent up it all was, the need to be touched, aroused,
to be close. Most of all to Vadim, but anyone else would
do. Anyone with an ounce of compassion. "I'd let
you go anyway. Just a matter of
Dan moved his head to the side, the jacket in the way,
jumper, shirt, all that damned fabric.
good to hear", said Dima. "Had that feeling,
but I like to hear it." Only now realizing he'd
craved reassurance, too. Hands moving to Dan's shoulders
to push and then pull off the jacket, keeping it close
as something that might serve as a pillow later. Teeth
and lips alternating, on Dan's throat now, the soft
flesh between throat and chin, while his hands unbuttoned
the shirt, opening it to the navel, then pulling it
off, too. No reaction to the scars even though he could
see them, must have felt them, not even a dry comment
about the operation or the skill of the surgeons that
had kept Dan alive. "Relax", he murmured again,
"let it go. We store our memories in our bodies.
Breathe and feel what I'm doing ..."
shivered, had to be the cold that suddenly hit his skin,
while his chest rose and fell with every breath, taut
skin and scars across his abs fluttering with the air
being pulled into his lungs. "You're a damn sight
different to my surgeon mate." Murmured, but it
felt good, fuck, yes, and he hadn't realised how starved
he was. Hands forming into fists, as if they didn't
know if he should touch or not.
no better than average", Dima said, grinning, lips
moving to Dan's chest, to his left nipple, again teeth,
gentle, then opening to scrape over the muscle. Kneading
the flesh for a moment, breathing against it. "I'll
take off your boots, now", he announced, went down
towards Dan's feet and opened the laces, working swiftly,
then carefully pulled the feet free. No haste in that,
only consideration as if Dan had a hidden wound that
he didn't want to touch or open.
felt almost ridiculous, so passive, just letting it
all happen, where Mad Dog would have quipped and joked,
would have taken and given and not just accepted. Breathing
heavier, his eyes still open, goosebumps on his skin
from the cold.
set the boots aside, before he came back up, eyes for
a moment on the scars, but again, no reaction, instead
went back to Dan's pecs, exploring the muscles, stroking,
biting and kneading, handling the body with all the
care and skill of a man who knew how the perfect machine
worked and was fitted together. "Trust me with
what?" Dan's voice had turned husky,
and he lifted his head, trying to meet those mottled
don't know ... there's still something holding you back."
Dima touched Dan's closed fist to illustrate, then moved
further down, to Dan's abs, where he did the same, teeth
tracing the ridges of muscle, while Dan drew in a shuddering
breath, consciously relaxing, forcing his fists to uncurl
and some of the tension to dissipate.
closed his eyes, trusting his intuition, while his hands
caressed Dan's flanks. He opened the belt, then the
buttons, pulling the BDUs down, and then over his feet,
undressing Dan completely, socks and all, despite the
chill, until Dan lay there for inspection, no insecurities,
at least not that, a ghost of a smile crossing his face.
"Afraid I'm not a spring chicken, but I guess you've
seen worse bodies
worse. And spraying their blood into my face."
Dima came back up, grinned, pulled one of the blankets
closer, next to Dan's hand, who got the hint and pulled
it across himself, losing his grip on the blanket when
Dima took his cock between his lips. No teeth this time,
just the sucking, gentle, sensuous, no deep throating,
no fucking, just teasing the head and taking him in.
Breathed out, Dan managed to pull on the blanket once
more, until it formed a tent over both of them. His
hand moved, touched the greying head. Just a touch,
no more, equally careful. "Is this a mercy fuck?"
Something soft in his voice, perhaps gently amused.
Feeling an odd sense of trust towards this unknown Russian,
and more of the tension was leaving his body.
stopped for a moment, came back up to look Dan straight
in the eyes. "Touch me, that should answer that
question." Pulling the t-shirt over his head, then
straightening, the blanket falling off when he braced
his knees, opening his own belt, his arousal visible
in Dan's washed out BDUs. "And contrary to what
people think, too much compassion doesn't actually help
in my line of work."
sense." A smile started to grow on Dan's face,
which turned into something entirely different at the
sight of the cock in front of him. Reaching to push
down the trousers, his hand touched corresponding hardness
to his own, making Dima's eyes light up and open his
lips. "Keep that thought, though, I like to repay
in kind." The grin that settled on Dan's features
was warm, and yet mirrored his arousal. "I'm afraid
I'm quite keen on cocksucking and haven't had it for
licked his lips, swallowed, speechless for a long moment,
then went back down to nuzzle Dan's cock. "Won't
... swallow. Can't risk that. Okay?"
Dan nodded, feeling at ease. "No problem."
Pulling the blanket across them once more as Dima took
Dan's cock again, allowing some saliva to run down the
shaft, to smooth things for his hand that began to pump
Dan. Slow, intense, skilled strokes, the hand more than
the mouth, which concentrated on the tip, exploring
it with his tongue, sliding into the slit and then around
the crown. Eyes closed, small groans escaping when he
breathed beneath the blankets, air warming, legs open,
eyes closed at last, his hand loosely on Dima's head,
sliding off to the shoulder, still connecting. More
passive and more relaxed than he had been for a long
time, even before the disaster. It had never been his
strength to just accept and enjoy, but something about
this man made him lie back and allow the lust to rise
and pool. Breath quickening, the muscles in his thighs
tensed under the strain of ever increasing heat.
took him deeper to only pull back against the suction
in his mouth, pushed deep, then slowly moved back, sucking
hard, his shoulder under Dan's hand shifting, moving
with every motion, body tough and powerful, and the
man clearly enjoying sucking Dan's cock. His arousal
noticeable in the shudders going through his body, and
the sounds he made, wet sucking noises that alternated
with moans. Going faster, harsher, needy and hungry,
then managed to get Dan's cock into his throat.
did it for Dan, had been so close, those noises one
of the sexiest things he'd ever heard, used to Vadim's
usual silence. The suction and heat, the closeness increased
all of a sudden, and he pushed against Dima's head to
warn him. Dima did pull back, almost reluctantly, and
Dan tensed, taut, body rigid, before he let out a groan,
deeply felt and freeing itself from the depths of his
chest, as he came with relief. Dima felt him cum against
his chest, hand continuing to milk Dan, his head resting
on Dan's stomach, kissing the scars there, then looked
up, and lay down at Dan's side, his bare chest against
Dan's, hard cock against his hip. Looking at him attentively,
until Dan turned his head after a while of allowing
himself to come down. He smiled when he opened his eyes.
it's your turn now." Reaching out of the blankets,
Dan felt for his shirt to wipe them down.
grinned. "You told me to keep that thought, which
... makes me a bit desperate." He rolled over on
his back, looking at Dan, who quickly wiped the cum
off. Dima stroked himself, slowly, almost matter-of-factly,
if the lust hadn't been written so clearly across his
features. "I didn't have anybody sucking me off
in ... forever
make it worthwhile, then, aye?" The old gleam was
back in Dan's eyes, the glimpse of Mad Dog, and he rolled
over onto all fours, took hold of his own BDUs on the
other man, and pulled them down, making him lift his
hips, until they went below the knees and down to the
ankles. Not bothering with undressing him fully, he
straddled one thigh, then got the blanket over both
of them once more. Bending down, Dan lightly slapped
Dima's hand off his cock, who gave a laugh at that,
to take hold himself, fingers curling around the hard
flesh, perfect pressure, while his tongue and lips explored
the head. Teeth scraping lightly, adding to the sensations,
as he took in more and more of the head, sucking for
a moment, making Dima squirm with pleasure and need.
Dan suddenly came back up and grinned down at the other
man who was beginning to zone out, and didn't grasp
what Dan was murmuring. It didn't make sense, but then
Dan lowered his head once more, and steadily, without
letting up, took the cock down his throat. All the way,
eyes closing with concentration, knowing how to fight
against the gagging reflex, and how to add pressure
when he went down, and how to suck hard and demanding,
when going back up again.
gave a desperate sound, a long, deep groan, tensed up,
pushing his hips up in a reflex, every muscle strung
taut as he gave after just a few of these motions, unable
to warn or say anything, just swept away by the sensation,
and Dan swallowed, as always, the old reflex. Sucked
hard, sucked the other dry, then slowly came back up
the still hard cock, felt it twitch between his lips,
as he cleaned it with leisurely swipes of his tongue,
finally letting go of the head, after a last swipe across
the slit. Palms on Dima's thighs, one on each, he looked
down at him, grinning like the proverbial cat. "Just
a shame you were so quick, eh?" Teasing in the
gloom of the blankets beneath the torch light.
breathed hard, meeting Dan's gaze, then gave a smile,
contented and flushed. "Didn't ... expect that.
If you ... give me a bit to recover ..." He pulled
the pillow closer and lay there, shuddering every now
and then, then reached for Dan's hand to pull him down,
and Dan followed. "Shit ... I really didn't expect
have to ask the question, then, what did you
that skill." Dima exhaled slowly, eyes closing
again. "It's ... usually hand jobs or what do you
call it, body against body, for me ... last guy that
tried to blow me couldn't get me off. Poor bastard was
getting flustered." Dima smiled, pulling Dan closer,
offering his shoulder to lie on, and the offer was taken
up. Too gladly, but the sex had made Dan mellow and
relaxed, at last. Could feel how damn exhausted he was.
The last month had been more strain than he'd tried
to acknowledge. He was scrabbling around for his jacket,
pulled it close and found his fags and lighter.
happened to me since my first blow job." Dan chuckled,
"couldn't get Vadim off, but the next time we met
I taught myself by trussing him up and holding a knife
to his balls. Guess I've been going strong ever since."
He winked and held a cigarette out to Dima, before lighting
laughed. "Vadim probably enjoyed that - a lot."
do know him." Dan glanced across to the
other with a twitch of his lips.
lay smoking for a while in silence, inhaling the nicotine
and feeling the heaviness and relaxation, despite the
chill, and that strange trust - not captive and jailer,
not by a long shot. He reached for his t-shirt to keep
warmer, while Dan threw the second blanket over them,
the chill of the ground kept off with the sleeping bag
settled in again, stretched out. "And to think
that in that hellhole, you found each other and Captain
Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada was fucking with a turkey,
that's a good irony. I like that. I appreciate that
kind of humour."
" Dan drew out the word while blowing the
last of his smoke towards the ceiling. "There were
times in my life when I could have pissed myself with
laughter about that." Wryly, Dan pulled a grimace
and stubbed out his fag. "Anyway, the real irony
must have been right in front of your nose. Did you
ever notice your Captain turning up with really good
kit? Western stuff? Including medicine and medical supplies?
And did he claim he got it from a turkey?"
he did." Dima laughed. "Only the turkey was
still alive. I thought he got it from raids or maybe
some killing on the side. There were times in the south
when I had to raid trucks with the others to get medical
supplies - can you believe they shipped a lot of our
supplies in glass containers? While everybody else used
plastic and foil? Glass!" He shook his head.
but on the other hand, my country sent me out
to train and organise the Mujas, all hush-hush, to fight
against the big bad USSR in the cold war, and it seems
now that I indirectly trained up a fucking bunch of
fucking 'holy warriors'. How is that for stupid?"
short-sighted in the extreme
and helped to plunge
that place into chaos." Dima shook his head. "That
was your job. It's the people giving the orders that
shouldn't be able to sleep at night. Or humans are truly
just wolves. But there was a lot of generosity, too.
Vadim gave me quite a bit of his stuff, every time I
got him for a direct blood transfusion. I figured he'd
be clean, and he's got a very common blood type. Plus,
he could take it. Some guys just cannot deal with seeing
their own blood, but Vadim never gave me any trouble.
I sometimes called him my walking blood bank."
Dima laughed and shook his head, and even Dan couldn't
help but chuckle. Strange, and oddly soothing, to hear
about Vadim from a time long gone.
Dima continued, "that was a different kind of war.
Maybe I was more innocent. I don't know. It wore me
down. The whole thing. The insanity. The good people
that broke and the bad people that remained bad. The
guys that died under my hands. Once, I had to get out
and look for a guy who'd got a direct hit from a mortar.
There wasn't anything left. Not enough for a two hundred
shipment ... that's what we called the coffins. We ...
I put what was left in an ammo box. No kidding. There
wasn't enough left. Not even for a second ammo box.
Just ... evaporated. Bodies turned to nothing. And I
thought what kind of pain is that, when your whole body
gets turned into that in the blink of an eye? I spoke
to a man who answered me a question I was always thinking
about - how long does it take you to feel the pain when
you're shot? Answer: five seconds. Where do I know that
from? Easy. An artillery officer was checking the time,
counting, to calculate the distance of the enemy's fire
positions. He was counting when he felt the impact,
thought it was a stone, but it had taken a chunk out
of his shoulder ... quite the romantic wound, only that
he lost his arm from an infection in the hospital. He
was counting, and it's exactly five seconds. So I thought
the poor ammo-box kid can't have felt any pain, because
he didn't live for five seconds. But I'm not sure."
Dima almost forced himself to stop speaking, shaking
his head, trying to dam the flow of words.
Dan said softly and turned onto his side, propped himself
up on his elbow, to look down at the other man. "I
can give you that answer. From experience." Odd,
how a stranger had become so familiar in no time. What
had happened to him, was it nostalgia of old battle
horses, or were they just so fucked up from everything
they had seen, and done, that comradeship came easy
- because it was necessary for survival and sanity?
"When this happened," pointing to his abs,
"and the shrapnel tore me apart, I felt nothing.
I had no strength, and all of a sudden, I lay on my
back. Couldn't move my hand," he lifted his left
hand, the scarred one, "because it was stapled
to my guts, but I felt nothing. Couldn't hear the noise,
the shouting, the friend above me. Nothing. I became
unconscious before the pain ever hit." A white
lie, towards the end, but he only dimly remembered there
was pain before he blacked out, just that last moment,
and that it had been unspeakable, but what it was really
like, his brain had cut out of his memory. "He
wouldn't have felt the pain, trust me. There would have
been nothing left to feel it with." He smiled a
nodded, taking the scarred hand into his. "I always
expected I'd get shot, but it never happened. I was
out there in the fire, dragging bodies to safety or
cover or even both and fixed them best I could. And
I always felt that pressure
it's the pressure
of waiting. There's a bullet for you, and you know it,
but you don't know when. Only that. But it didn't happen,
and this is my last war. If the bullet doesn't get me
here, I will never know what it's like and the pressure
will never come down. Do you understand what I mean?"
closed his fingers around the other man's - stranger's
- but not anymore. Understanding that could only exist
between men who'd seen the same. "I do understand.
It never got me either, and I've got away so often,
ending up like a scrap heap of scars, that I wonder
if I'm being kept together with rubber bands and spit."
it's a solid enough design." Dima touched the scars
briefly, just acknowledging them.
still functions." Dan smiled crookedly, "but
to seek that bloody bullet, that is bullshit. You want
to die, Dima? Seems to me you take the stuff you've
done too seriously for that, and that you're a damn
good medic. A bullet would cut that short, aye?"
seeking it. I'm expecting it. I was scared of dying,
until I told myself that if I
if I keep in my
head that we'll all die, if I keep death in my mind,
that means I wouldn't be so surprised when it happens.
And after that, it's almost
waiting for it. And
I do wonder if that's the sane thing to do."
sound quite sane to me, even though it's not crazy either."
Dan pointed vaguely with his chin behind him. "That
mate of mine, Maurice, he's as mad as a hatter, but
they tell me all medics and surgeons are."
grinned. "I tell you what's insane: I figured,
after this, I'd go home and finish my studies at university.
Become a proper surgeon, or a doctor, or a vet, delivering
babies! Sounds like just the perfect thing for you,
after all the bloody battlefield work." Dan grinned,
taking the piss. "I bet you'd have a field day."
the second guy after Vadim calling me a damned peasant
from the Urals. Yes, it's true. I'm from a village that
isn't even on any kind of map. And, yes, we can read
in the Urals."
grinning, Dan rolled back over, "I bet it isn't
as small as the village that I come from, in the Scottish
Highlands. I'm a peasant through and through."
Stretching his toes and relaxing once more. "By
the way, been thinking, and I found the solution to
you being here and getting out intact. I'll tell Maurice
about you, and he can pick you up tomorrow night. That
way you're in the safety of the French embassy before
Vadim even returns, and he will take care of you. He's
mad, but a good guy."
Doesn't get safer than that. And beyond that
I'm not even sure I want to think that far. Will they
send me home? What happens then?"
have no idea. Maybe, if you don't want to go home, you
could apply for asylum. Britain takes anyone, Vadim's
a fine example." Dan winked, and it hardly hurt
at all to say the name. "Or you could stay a while,
work as a nurse, and pick up the limbs that Maurice
is, can I work? And what to do with my time. My life.
If I'm not going back to university. I don't know."
but I don't know either. Just a thought and just a start.
Got to start somewhere, aye?"
I'll think about it. I don't really have much
family concerns left, but I'm not getting younger, and
the way Russia has changed
frowned. "I'm not sure I understand what's going
on anymore, whether this is just a transition, the start
of something new, or just chaos and madness."
tell you, but the way the world's going at the moment,
its focus won't be on Russia." Dan shrugged. "I
didn't keep up with Mother R, because Vadim refuses
to even just speak Russian, most of the time, and seemed
happy he was adopted by
" He trailed off,
this really was getting too painful.
nodded. "That must be bad for him
believed in the people, at least, and I always took
him for a true believer, which
well, you didn't
speak about politics that carelessly. Not in those days.
I'll need to talk to Vadim, but later. Maybe I can get
him to talk." He winked. "Worked with you.
will you stay here for a bit longer and rest
up, or are you leaving again?"
think I just stay." Dan turned his head and glanced
at the other. "If you don't mind? Been a while
and I could do with
" Damn, he sounded
like a sap, so he just grinned crookedly. He missed
Vadim, missed the touch, missed everything, but perhaps
at this moment, he missed contact most of all.
nodded and reached down to pull up his trousers, closing
the buttons and the belt, and shed the boots after that.
He stretched out and looked at Dan. "Yeah, in terms
of heat, a human body is the next best thing to a boiler
" He ran his fingers along Dan's jaw line,
then rested his head against Dan's. "It's a bit
strange for me, I tended not to stay around till the
but there's no need - no point -
in leaving here. That's almost relaxing."
you could claim that I forced you, because I locked
I'm an abused prisoner - that's absolutely clear."
grinned and shuffled back onto his side, head cushioned
on his biceps. "Just kick me in the nuts, by the
way, if I forget that you are you and start all the
stuff that I'd do with Vadim - before he turned into
an insufferable arsehole and raging madman, aye?"
what that is
" Dan exhaled noisily, "that would usually
be snuggling up in spooning style, and shagging in slow-mo
from behind, when waking up with a hard-on."
can have the spooning, but I don't get anything out
of getting fucked. I tried it a few times, but it's
just painful. Apart from messy, and usually not too
safe. I stopped trying that."
" Dan realised he was starting to repeat
himself, "it's safe if you stick to just one, who
sticks to just one, too. And the rest with condom."
He shrugged, "you asked, so I answered." Grinning,
"and messy is relative. Granted, shitting cum isn't
my favourite hobby and Vadim's neither, but he likes
getting fucked and that suits me just fine. I'm not
into it myself that much, just sometimes, when the situation
" And involves strangling or fake
but Dan figured it really wasn't the
best idea to tell that to a medic, or anyone else for
that matter. "Whatever turns you on, right?"
nodded. "I'm the last guy in the world to say something's
wrong. Well, who knows, maybe I'm relaxed enough in
the morning to take it." Giving Dan a wicked, teasing
grin. "As they say, at night all cats are grey,
body is body, and if I turn you on, that's nice."
see," Dan grinned, "I don't mind." And
he was actually far more tired than he should have been,
but the few hours he'd got during the day had been anything
but refreshing. "Spooning, then? With a stranger?"
you'll tell me your name tomorrow", Dima said and
rolled over onto his side. "Then we're not strangers
Except for 'Dan'. But you only know my first name, too."
fuck." Dan moved closer, until his front touched
the other's back, and it almost hurt like fuck, but
it hurt so good, this make-believe, and especially when
Dima reached behind to place a hand on his hip. He inhaled
slowly, the back of the head before his eyes was grey,
not blond, but the body felt good in his arms.
am Daniel Ewan McFadyen. Scottish. Ex-SAS, ex-bodyguard,
still a merc."
meeting you." Dima patted Dan's hip. "I'll
tell you the rest of my name over breakfast."
Dan yawned, now that the tension of weeks had been drained
temporarily like puss from a wound, he was rapidly drifting
off. "That you do."
* * * * * *
few hours later, in the early hours of the morning,
the bunker was pitch dark with the torch switched off.
Dan half-woke, comfortable in the warmth of another
body. Skin to cloth, the solid feel of muscle and bone
beneath his hands and against his chest, groin and legs,
he was shifting to get even closer. Murmuring something
without forming words, he felt relaxed and content,
reality forgotten. Shifting his hips again, mere increments,
until his cock slipped in the crevice between thighs,
and despite the cloth it felt so damn good, like it
had always done, every morning when he woke wrapped
noticed the shift - he'd slept light due to the presence
of another body that disturbed him, at the same time
it was damned nice to have somebody close for longer
than it took to overcome the tiredness after comedown.
Faintly remembering who it was - Dan, SAS, heartbroken
Brit who clearly, in every breath and every thought,
missed Dima's old comrade and superior: Vadim. A man
who had never appeared as being made for romance or
love and least of all with another man. He leaned into
the touch, the insistent but gentle pressure. He moved
his hand in between their bodies, touching the thigh,
balls, the hard cock, offering his hand without speaking.
murmured something again, the words too slurred to make
sense, as his mind remained in the make-belief for a
while longer. Moving into the hand, at the same time
his own slipped beneath the other's t-shirt, felt warm
skin, and rested on the waist, without demand, pulling
the hips closer, towards his cock.
felt good, being touched and getting aroused. In the
dark, no questions, it meant nothing, just arousal and
an odd tenderness. Dima was wide awake, his free hand
went to the belt, just to go skin on skin, to free his
own cock. Opening the buttons one-handed while offering
tightness and resistance to Dan's cock, stroking slowly
in that slightly awkward position. A case of morning
wood, but sex was sex was sex, and he liked this man
- not just a mercy fuck even though that did play a
role, it helped calm him down and maybe help with that
mind was waking more, the arousal stoked by the stroking
hand, and he sensed the movements more than he noticed
them, as the trousers were pushed down awkwardly, and
Dima was forced to let go for a moment, to get the BDUs
past his hips, while Dan's hand was pushing the t-shirt
up, baring expanses of skin, before pressing in once
more. Burying his face in the back of the other's neck,
only then did he understand fully, when the scent was
all wrong. No, all different, good still, but the body
in his arms and against his chest, and pressed into
his cock, was not Vadim. "Uhm
all he managed to murmur, as his senses struggled to
form a coherent picture.
felt the sudden confusion, the pause, and reached to
find Dan's hand, pressing it for a long moment to his
abs, wanted the hand, the man, tensing his stomach muscles
against the hand, and sliding it down to his hardening
cock. Hoping Dan would get hold of it, read that he
wanted him, even make himself believe that he was somebody
else. Breath catching a bit in his throat.
hand closed around Dima's cock, his own trapped between
their bodies. "I know you're not him." He
murmured, the words remaining in the darkness of the
room. Spoken, impossible to take back, and he wouldn't
... I know you know", murmured Dima, tensing at
the touch of that strong hand. Cock hardening fully,
very much what he wanted, and he smiled at the situation,
that damned anticipation that he felt with every new
lover, to an extent, but this wasn't a faceless guy
for a quick release. For once, he knew his name, his
past, his lover. His own private war. He was aware that
he was only a substitute, and compared to Vadim, he'd
always lose out. He didn't have that chiselled beauty,
nor that ruthlessness.
still want you, though."
convinced me", Dima said dryly.
but you told me you didn't do fucking." Rocking
into the other, giving his cock more pressure, while
stroking Dima's in sync. Slow, unhurried, as if they
had all the time in the world.
paused for a long moment, and just the size of the cock
in his hand gave him an even longer pause. "And
you really like the fucking bit?" Thinking, what
the hell was he doing. "If you ... do it safe and
... don't go in too deep ..."
I really do like it, but I don't have to, you know."
Dan smiled in the back of Dima's neck. The darkness
impenetrable, but the smile was audible in his voice.
"A handjob will be fine, and I don't even know
if I've got a condom in my wallet, or anything for lube
" Not sure who he was trying to convince,
especially since he was already trying to figure out
what they could use safely.
long as you're not acting like a battering ram",
Dima murmured and Dan chuckled.
usually a bit sexier than that."
figured ..." Dima wouldn't go out of his way to
convince Dan, and knew he was being generous here. Had
tried it a few times and it hadn't been as good as the
other stuff he did with men, and hygiene was an issue,
always. Never mind the health risk. "No condoms
here. Vadim didn't take my kit when he brought me to
that other place."
can you reach the torch?" Reluctantly letting go
of Dima's cock, Dan pulled his jacket close.
let go, too, feeling around for the torch, and connecting
soon with its cool metal. Switching it on, he shielded
the light, handing it over to Dan, then slipped out
of his trousers and rolled over onto his back, watching
Dan rummage around through the many pockets of his thick
winter parka. Producing his wallet, Dan found a couple
of condoms and grinned. Good thing he'd never got rid
was watching him, thinking that getting fucked was unpleasant,
sometimes it started nice and got bad, mostly when they
used too much force, and went in too deep and too fast,
and he wasn't the guy who told them to stop, a matter
of pride, he figured. None of those guys had ever mattered
anyway, he just wouldn't see them again, or make sure
that fucking was a clear 'no'. Why Dan, then? Maybe
because he liked the man and because he believed Dan
to be 'safe' - the kind of guy who took care of somebody
else's prisoner wouldn't be the guy that fucked him
painfully. And maybe because the whole thing was already
extraordinary and easier than most other one night stands
he'd had so far.
was still looking through one of the last inside pockets,
when he let out a small grunt of triumph, producing
a miniature tube of KY. "Didn't even know I still
had it." Sealed and unused, albeit battered. "Must
have been in there since forever."
a good boy scout, always prepared ... but you know what,
I always have a pair of sterile plastic gloves on me
ask me what that makes me think of
smirked and pushed the jacket away, then turned the
torch, so that there was light in the bunker, but no
more than a dim glow. He tore the foil packet open,
before rolling onto his side, smiling at Dima. Relaxed,
as if he had known the other man for years, and not
just a few hours. But Dima was a link to the past, to
Vadim, Afghanistan and the mountains, and whatever was
painful about it all, above else, whatever had been
good remained in his memory, and somehow this man was
part of that. "Best roll back over to your side."
One hand on Dima's shoulder, the other holding the condom
with care, "you don't want me to go too deep and
it can't happen that way." And he'd only ever fucked
Vadim like this, but somehow
all the pledges to the contrary, it seemed right and
good and fitting now.
glanced at the condom as if checking it was still sealed,
then did roll over, more self-conscious now in the light,
but Dan was a sight to behold, and he wouldn't have
minded looking at him for a while longer, that strong,
dark-haired body. "Okay." Nervous, but hiding
it well, a dozen thoughts racing through his mind. About
pain, of course, but maybe he'd just been really unlucky?
Many guys loved this. Most gay guys appeared to prefer
taking it, which suited him fine, usually.
guess it's my turn now to tell you to relax, aye?"
Dan chuckled low, and Dima gave a small laugh that indicated
just how much Dan had hit the nail on the head. Dan's
voice was soft, as one hand roamed across and down Dima's
side, then to the front, finally taking the softening
cock into his hand, stroking once more, which returned
the cock to full hardness, and made Dima breathe faster.
if you don't like it, just tell me and don't be as much
of an idiot as I usually was, and suffer through it."
Dan kept murmuring, arousal in his voice, and a genuine
warmth. This man made him feel comfortable, and he wasn't
going to analyse it any further.
reading my mind", murmured Dima in Russian, but
we are just too similar." Dan grinned while rolling
the condom one-handed onto his cock. Preferred sex without
it, but hell, he wasn't going to argue the point, ever.
He believed in risk on the battlefield, but not in bed.
"It's not very clever to 'just take it', a friend
and lover once said, and you know what? He was damn
right." Scooting closer once more, the lube in
his hand, twisting the cap off with his teeth. All the
time stroking, in the same, unhurried pace.
... let you know." Dima moved one knee up a bit,
figuring it would be easier for Dan to reach his ass,
"if I ... don't get anything out of it." Which
was likely. A very tight muscle, not actually designed
for this kind of thing, his own inexperience, Dan's
size, and previous empirical data. "Thanks, by
the way, for not fucking me when I was chained up."
Needing to say anything, something nice.
froze in mid motion, a moment of tension, "I would
never, you understand, never rape anyone. Okay?"
Murmured into Dima's ear, with too much intensity, but
then the tension flowed out again, and the movements
continued, as if nothing had ever happened.
Dima didn't mention what Vadim had done. Not exactly
rape, he'd been hard, Vadim, too, but he'd have preferred
to be free, have his hands free, most of all.
squeezed the lube into his hand, he coated his cock
first, before it became warm enough to be worked between
Dima's buttocks, slow, but deeper and deeper, until
one finger slipped through the ring of muscle, without
resistance, and Dima kept breathing evenly, to not allow
any resistance to build up.
by the way, I have time." Dan smiled, "I won't
flag that quickly." True to his word, he continued
to stroke, while working the lube in slowly, now and
again entering with one finger, eventually a second
relaxed, allowed all that to happen, didn't mind the
intrusion, but that wasn't the challenge. The challenge
came with the size and the depth. Right now, it felt
good, slow, considerate, loosening him up. "Yeah,
I guess we used to rush it ..."
can be good, too, but not now." Dan replaced his
hand and his fingers with his cock, guiding himself
and rocking forward. Tiny movements, but not letting
up, convincing, rather, than forcing the resistance
to yield. He sounded a little strained, from holding
himself back, when he let out a breathless laugh, "I
do some kinky shit at times, but I wouldn't just ask
anyone to strangle me while fucking me raw."
laughed, that sudden laugh betraying his tension. "Asphyxiation
is ... a major turn on for the body ... God had a laugh
when he built that feature. I mean, you get hanged and
you have a hard-on?"
chuckled, while stroking a little faster, and Dima pressed
back, like he'd get rid of waste, his body slowly accepting
the intruder, fat head, the stretching noticeable, a
slight feeling of unease, but Dan managed to enter,
slowly, ever so slowly. "Sounds like ... you have
some great sex ..." Dima knew he was just talking
to talk, communicating while talking about something
and I'm not doing too badly right now." Dan's voice
sounded husky, as he entered further, forcing himself
to hold back. For some reason it was of paramount importance
that this man was going to enjoy the fuck, and from
what he gathered, it would be the first time he'd like
Not too bad ... on this end, either ... Talking about
kinky ... most ... irresponsible thing I've ever done
was sex under the influence ... that's the upside of
being a medic. You know exactly which substance triggers
what did you take?" Dan pressed the words out,
as his cock was finally in, as far as it could, without
being too deep. The angle prevented the penetration
to go any further, but he shifted slightly, before pulling
back out, only half-way, to try and hit the right spots.
His hand moved down the shaft of Dima's rock-hard cock
in synch with his own sliding back into the body. A
slow rhythm, perfectly aligned.
ah." Dima went rigid, the sound made it impossible
to determine what had just happened, whether it was
pain or pleasure, overstimulation or just something
too right. His muscles tightened, and he suddenly appeared
helpless, responding to something. "Do ..."
Not making sense.
Dan grinned, "I do." That was it, and he'd
keep this up, even if it cost him his sanity. Rubbing
his face against the back of Dina's neck, who moved
without intention, just moving with him, against him.
Dan's skin started to gleam with a sheen of sweat, while
he kept the angle exactly as before, kept the strokes,
too, and continued the rhythm, while Dima lost all control,
all will to resist, all thought. The same pace, for
a long time, making Dan's balls ache and his body tremble
with the sheer effort of keeping himself back to give
as much as he could, and yet he got a damn lot out of
it. The helplessness of Dima's body, the sounds and
the harsh breathing. The scent of fresh sweat and the
shudders beneath his hands. Speeding up when he heard
Dima whimper, and Dan closed his eyes, concentrating
on the lust that had been burning for too long, and
the way he felt his cock being gripped in the tight
heat, as he moved faster, with more intensity, the grip
on Dima's cock strong and demanding now, slicked with
couldn't decide whether to press into the hand or back
against the cock, never mind that decision had never
before occurred to him, always the hand. The stimulation
getting too intense to bear much longer, feeling like
his whole body was no longer in his control, arousal
and reflexes and instincts taking over, and the need
growing out of all proportion. Building and building
until his body tensed, nearly spasmed, orgasm so fierce
it felt like a cramp, and he came, moaning, pleading,
incoherent and unable to make any sense of his feelings,
which seemed suddenly bared and raw and open and so
then did Dan let go of the control, concentrating on
himself at last, on the feeling in his cock, his balls,
with his hand, now, coated with Dima's cum, flat against
the shuddering abs, and he sped up, as much as he needed
to bring himself over the edge, cumming with a groan
and a sensation of gratitude, tenderness, trust, and
friendship, and a thousand other things, towards this
man he hardly knew. He remembered to pull out carefully,
and took the condom off, knotting it up to drop it to
the ground, as he rolled over onto his back. His body
drenched in sweat, but his hands still connected, urging
the other to move with him, who responded without thinking,
and offering his shoulder this time. Dima accepted the
offer, moved up to him, sweaty body leaning against
his. Dan said nothing, just lay and breathed and grinned
from ear to ear.
I'm glad we tried", said Dima after he'd caught
his breath, in a dry, understated tone as if he was
being generous. He lifted his head to look at Dan, who
grinned at him, teeth and all.
it was okay." Drawing out the last word, "and
you seemed to just about bear it, as well."
Dima rested his head again, enjoying the scent of Dan's
skin, the heat, the comedown. Who'd thought there was
proper, good, wholesome sex to be found in a war zone?
"How long can you stay?" He asked against
lifted his arm and peered at his watch. "Another
hour. I have to be back at the time I'd return from
shift, or Vadim might get suspicious. He doesn't know
that I'm off for a few days." Searching one-handed
for his fags, he pulled two out and lit both, before
handing one over, which was placed between Dima's lips,
and Dima rolled over on his back, one arm supporting
his head. "So what's the plan?"
I'll have a word with my surgeon mate. He'll pick you
up tomorrow night at the latest." He had a plan,
but he couldn't risk telling anyone about it.
And I'll stick to the story." Dima gave a quick
grin, hardly more than a flash. "I was thinking
I could probably escape out of here, I'm pretty good
at moving behind enemy lines, and in this damned country,
everybody is an enemy ... at least of somebody else."
He inhaled the nicotine deeply. "I just can't get
locked up. Waiting is hell for me."
you escape, what then? I can leave the door open, no
problem, but where's the point? The embassy won't lock
you up, they'd probably send you back home, unless you
find a good reason to stay." Blowing smoke to the
ceiling. "Or are you too much like me and what
you're doing now is all you've ever done, and you're
actually addicted to this adrenaline shit, even though
everybody tells you you're too fucking old and knackered?"
Dan flashed a grin, but it wasn't entirely funny.
medical professions have plenty of adrenaline. I don't
have to get shot at to be happy. It's enough to be able
to bring somebody back from dying." Dima grinned.
"It's just that Russia is not a great place to
return to, at the moment. I have two good ... well,
bad hands, I can make a living elsewhere. And what's
the 'Motherland' anyway? I did the numbers - I've spend
more time away than in the country. But I'll need a
job. There's no way I'm living off somebody else's mercy."
that case, what qualifications would you need to be
able to work as a civilian medic? Or even a paramedic,
or a nurse to start with. As a paramedic you'd race
around a city, first line of defence. If you're lucky
you can even get onto a motorbike. I saw that in London
the last time I was there."
idea. I don't know how the system works." Dima
grinned. "Motorbike? Beats rushing out of cover
dodging bullets by a mile."
stubbed his cigarette out. "You just need a reason
why you ask for asylum
the problem. I wouldn't be Spetsnaz if I hadn't kept
my head down, politically. On what grounds did they
take Vadim in? Political prisoner?"
slowly turned and craned his head to look at Dima. "Something
like that. I just wouldn't recommend what happened before
that. Besides, maybe you don't actually need asylum
anymore, maybe just a working permission. I haven't
kept up with the way the world's been going."
I have to give some guy at some embassy a blowjob."
Dima laughed. "Or bribe somebody. I don't know.
I'll see it when it happens. I just don't want to go
to prison and I don't want to be dependent on anybody.
You're already helping a lot, and I'm already feeling
a bit queasy about that. If it fails, I can always just
escape and find some other way. That's what I'm trained
to do. Common sense."
would you go to prison?" Dan's brows rose, "no,
don't answer that question. Depending on what that chetnik
band of yours did, I rather not know. The less I know,
the less they can ask me."
best. I didn't fire the bullets, but ..." Dima
shrugged and stopped.
Don't." Dan pulled in a deep breath. "And
I guess I have to leave soon. Besides, you're getting
glanced down and reached over to wipe himself down somewhat,
then decided hygiene was important and got up to wash,
feeling very much that he'd been fucked, and began to
eliminate the traces with a few handfuls of water, while
Dan was dressing. "Whatever you're doing, Dan,
be safe", he murmured as he was starting to dress.
It was too cold to lie bared between the blankets. "It
would be nice to see you again, even after I got picked
up. Not just for blowjobs, maybe to have a tea and trade
stories? And why does that sounds like I'm not meaning
are you meaning it?" Dan glanced up from lacing
had too many one-night-stands where I said something
similar. I guess it's the routine that makes it sound
fake." Dima frowned. "And this is not a 'oh,
honey, but you were special' story, it's ... it's just
that I actually like you."
alright then, because if I've learned anything in my
life, then it's that: mates and friends are damn important.
Without them you're fucked up." Standing up, Dan's
movements smoother now that he'd been lying in the warmth
of their bodies. He shrugged into his jacket and stepped
closer, standing face to face, and he grinned, switching
to Russian. "Must be the Russianness, but I like
you, Dima WhosnameIstilldontknow, and I'd like to drink
a tea with you, or a vodka. And talk, or have sex again."
He held out his hand.
took Dan's hand with both his. "Starov. Dimitri
Starov. And I'm not officially here, because why should
anybody help our brother nation, the Serbs, against
the heathen ... whoever else lives here ..." Dima
shook his head.
to have met you, Dimitri Starov." In Russian, switching
back to English, "does that mean you are as officially
here as I was in Afghanistan?"
how Russia works - they make it sound like they thought
it was a good idea, but it was pretty much a marching
order. Other people fight here just for fun; I've met
several that work as perfectly civilian people, like
painters and bricklayers, and they just get an AK from
somewhere and go off to slaughter people. I don't understand
this war, Dan. I really don't."
don't claim I understand any war, but this one
I don't get it." Dan shook his head. "Maybe
I have seen and done too much in my life. Maybe I am
too old, or maybe I've become too soft. I don't know,
but what I've seen here
" He shut up and
shook his head again. Then he simply leaned forward
and kissed the other, germs be damned. Dima seemed genuinely
surprised, kissing was clearly not part of his 'usual
routine', but he didn't shy back, just seemed surprised,
but not unwilling, as he placed a hand against Dan's
neck to kiss him for two seconds longer, and reluctantly
let him pull away.
leave the door open. It is up to you what you do, but
I'd be happy if you didn't run. Maurice will
pick you up, I guarantee you that."
nodded. "I'll give it some serious thought. Take
too." Dan took his bergan and the torch, cast a
last glance at the man in the shadows, and pulled the
heavy door open, leaving it ajar, just as he'd promised.
He believed in this man, and he didn't know why, but
he knew he had to leave the decision to Dima.