Hind helicopters and plenty of firepower. The Afghans
were still in the stone age, speaking from a military
perspective. Vadim relished the slaughter. Come low
over the hilltops, blow the shit up, then go in to kill
the survivors. Men, women, children, fucking goats and
sheep, nothing moved nor breathed when he was finished
with a place. Tossing the poison canisters into their
precious wells after the deed.
places would be forgotten, nobody would return there,
and nobody could survive there. Another marking on the
map: We encountered enemy forces, here, there and there,
and he was being generous with the term 'forces'. Vadim
drank moonshine, every now and then, there was no other
way to wind down, no other way but to fall over from
exhaustion after the slaughter. The occasional interrogation,
their Afghani translator did a good job of not showing
how much he was scared. Too bad he couldn't kill that
fucker - he annoyed him, the polished Russian the man
spoke, and then the Pushtu in the next heartbeat. The
beast inside raged, and it was a lot of fun, the mindless
raging and destroying, making sure these places, these
people were wiped out.
the war into the mountains; create secure zones for
transport, troop movement, and demonstrate superior
day they acquired a new target, another village, half
nestled into a valley, and the military machinery once
more sprang into action. Vadim took a sniping position,
and everybody was ready for carnage. It grew on a man.
It was better than being penned in at the barracks.
He'd come to fight a war, not to jerk off in the toilets
signalled. The radio guy relayed the order.
like something impossibly beautiful, and at the same
time dreadful in an insectoid way, the Hinds closed
in, gunships, flying tanks. Unleashed technological
might. The village was protected enough down in the
valley that not all rockets would hit. That was what
gas was for, and Vadim's men.
remained prone, watched the stage play down below. Fucking
place couldn't be reached with tanks. And those villagers
were helping the enemy, providing food, water, and above
all, rest. Courage. 'The partisan needs to swim like
a fish among fish to thrive'. What the Kremlin was trying
to do was to dry up the ocean. And this was yet another
drop. Increasingly, his superiors were starting to get
interested in intelligence. If he could provide any
- and that was why he was here. Paratrooper Vadim Krasnorada.
Directly reporting to the KGB.
body armour constricted his chest, his heart beat so
hard. Radio signals, his men advancing, quickly, everybody
pumped up after the waiting. He was ready.
* * *
had been training those goat-fucking losers, been fighting
with the frustration of setting up a guerrilla force
without the resources of an organised military machinery,
but he thrived on the job. It was a challenge, and he
fucking loved a challenge.
seen what the Soviets had done in too many villages
already. Not just killing the men, taking out the Mujahideen,
he accepted that. Bloody necessities of war, just one
of these things. Death and destruction. He'd seen it
many times. Not so for those bastard Russians. They
couldn't be satisfied with brimstone and fire, they
killed every living soul. Women, children, poisoned
the wells and slaughtered the livestock. He had seen
the burnt earth, and the stench of rotting flesh remained
in his nostrils.
last two days had been fairly good, at last finding
an intact village, friendly to them and with drinkable
water. They were cautious, staying inside the cradle
of houses, watching the women and children and old men
go about their work outside. At last they were able
to get some rest, food, water, sleep. Dan had been going
on empty for too long, stamina pulling him through,
but his so-called freedom fighters hadn't been trained
enough. Not yet, perhaps never.
was scanning the horizon with binoculars, lying on the
ground while smoking one of those Russian coffin nails
that mistakenly labelled themselves as cigarettes.
the shape of a Hind appeared, the sound travelling far
behind. "Fuck!" Hissed, adrenaline shot into
his body like a junky got his cocaine. This time it
was for real.
stayed on the ground, moved as fast as he could while
ducking, relaying the danger the moment he was in ear
attack! Get them out! Out!"
Women, children, fucking peasants, none of them having
a goddamned clue what any of this was about.
Dan was running, shouting. Rifle in his hands, safety
off, ready to kill if those bastards ever dared to show
themselves. "Leave here!" Knew it was useless,
those fucking goat-herders would never understand the
way the Soviets fought their wars. Human life? They
didn't give a shit. Civilians? They were there to be
used as target practice. Geneva convention? A fucking
piece of fucking useless jokes. He hated those Russian
galore, the women now screaming and screeching, running
like headless chickens and black, panicking birds, with
their torn wings fluttering frightened. Children crying,
men shouting. Mayhem, panic and hell, he tried what
he could to bring those useless peasants into some semblance
running, blindly reacting.
* * *
They swarmed like a poked anthill. Vadim trained his
rifle on a woman - fucking black crows in their head-to-toe
veils. Pulled the trigger. Legshot. They would try to
save her. Bind the enemies' resources, even if this
enemy didn't' have any. He found a new target, yet another
one he'd wound, not kill.
had killed Sasha. Vadim had received the letter a week
ago, and it had been a bunch of fucking partisans. Sasha
who had dared ask him something absolutely impossible,
and absolutely human. And he had agreed.
had agreed because he knew what Sasha had felt, and
Sasha was a comrade, even more, Sasha. He knew what
Katya went through, felt almost envious for the thing
between her and him. And he wasn't sure which of the
two were more important - his death had made Sasha larger,
looming in his mind.
we need to talk, Sasha had said. Vadim had feared
he wanted to talk about that night, that fucking risk
to bring him home, home to meet the wife, drink and
eat together. Ended up in bed, a mass of limbs, a strange
harmony, two men, his wife. Risky as hell, irresistible.
Vadim, let her go.
Hind closed in, fired the rockets. Reduce this town
to rubble, then move in and kill everything. The ant
hill was on fire.
know I respect you. But I love your wife. I love her
way Sasha did neither say 'my son', nor 'your son'.
Whoever's son it was, ultimately, it was her kid, and
Sasha would love him just the same.
better match than the spetsnaz and the fencer. Sasha
was a pilot. He was far away from the worst of it. Far
away enough to not get blinded by dust.
Vadim, let her go. I'll owe you so much more than I
can repay you, ever.
squeezed the trigger, purely mechanical. Remembered
Sasha's body between him and his wife, remembered every
motion, every whispered word. One night, and then another.
had brought Sasha home do to just that.
had his blood type.
attack was like the fucking rifle range. Targets popped
up, shoot, reload, shoot again. It was like shooting
rabbits, only that these rabbits moved in straight lines.
The village exploded, rockets sending fire and death,
Vadim could feel the heat on his face, and it warmed
him in so many ways. Sasha.
is for Sasha, and our son. He bared his teeth, while
his men advanced into the village to finish the job,
his was to be overwatch, a remote killer, every bullet
a hit, just like in training. He was a damn good marksman,
his shooting much better even than the swimming or the
spread to stabilize him on the ground, cover behind
rocks, much better vantage point than anybody else had.
The Dragunov vastly powerful, but exactly what saved
the day over long distances; he preferred it to the
other sniper rifles.
didn't have time to watch them or wonder how and where
to strike, he just did, took them down, one by one,
especially when they came to help or rescue the wounded.
Sniper games. Hurt one so they scream, and take out
everybody that comes in to help. Like tying a bleeding
sheep to a tree in a forest full of wolves.
and death all around Dan, it was no good, they had all
lost their heads when the children started dying, small
heads exploding into blood, gore and splattering brains,
sending the remaining Afghani into a frenzy of panic
and shock. He had to leave them, their fates were sealed.
on the ground, Dan used every scrap of cover the barren
ground could offer, scanning the slaughter and mayhem
for the only one constant: the sniper. Tracing the path
towards the cold-blooded marksman.
moved, close to the ground. Rifle in his hands, snaking
forward on his belly. The chaos around him was protecting
stopped. Watched. There. The sniper had to be hiding
behind the low formation of rocks. Dan turned sideways
to reach the hornet's nest from behind.
unheard, unlike the Russian killer.
knew he was getting closer, could sense it, that goddamned
sixth sense that had warned him that night in Kabul
but he had ignored it. He didn't ignore it now and he'd
take out that arsehole. If there was one thing he hated,
one thing his comrades, mates and superiors were unified
in loathing, it was those fucking enemy snipers. Humans
were nothing but moving targets, a carnage that was
going far beyond anything that made sense in a motherfucking
war acted out along rules he'd never encountered before.
ever closer he got, finally reaching the rock formation,
silently creeping behind. Heart racing, mind razor sharp,
senses alert. Adrenaline coursing through his body,
one false movement and the Russian marksman would be
silent movement, slow, creeping, pulling himself closer,
exploded. Dan jumped onto his feet, swung the rifle,
butt first. Movement, words, hatred, all in one heartbeat.
No thoughts, just action. The sniper was in the process
of turning, his hand going for the pistol at his side,
but the rifle came down on the Russian's head before
he could even taken another breath.
wasn't thinking. Didn't have a fucking clue why he hadn't
just killed the bastard when he had the perfect chance.
Would have rid the world of some pondlife cocksucking
piece of scum. Didn't know, didn't care, was only action.
mayhem was starting to quieten down, no more lives left
to kill. Dan's rabble unit of insurgents had been wiped
out, and so had old men, young children and countless
women. All of them. He didn't feel much for them, he
was just doing his duty with goat-herders who had no
meaning to him - expendable lives for all he was concerned,
but he despised the Soviet war crime. Genocide. Fucking
make the Russian bastard pay for this mess, but first
he'd get the arsehole to experience the excruciating
moments of fear, feeling the muzzle pressed into the
base of his neck. 'Da-svi-da-niya, fucker'.
didn't have much time, wasn't sure how long his enemy
would remain unconscious, and how long it would take
his comrades to look for him. Hastily checking the prone
body for weapons, he grabbed pistol, rifle, knives that
were easily found, secured them on his own person. 'Always
prepared', and he grinned coldly to himself, while securing
the cable tie tightly around the Russkie's thick wrists,
arms behind the broad back, doing the same with the
ankles. He couldn't take any chances, he had to get
away for now.
the lifeless bulk onto his shoulders in a fireman's
grip, he nearly broke down, staggered, but sheer determination
and something sickeningly cold-sliding slithering through
the pits of his stomach kept him upright. He picked
up both rifles and started to walk. Away, to a place
where he could let lose that poisonous hatred and gain
Hinds touched down while Dan was escaping with his prize,
more men emerged, some of them carried flamethrowers
to wash the villagers out of their cellars and hiding
holes under the huts and in the rock. Cleaning out some
places with hand grenades, then continuing to kill the
wounded, men, women, children. They worked quickly,
knowing that news spread fast over the barren wasteland,
somehow. None of them wanted to be there by nightfall.
what they could carry and their kit of course, the fact
the Captain was missing became apparent. No trace from
his position, nobody had seen anything, heard anything.
The absence of blood and kit could mean he had changed
position, or was simply gone. Some felt there had to
be enemies around, and they were eager to get back into
the copters. They sent out a search party, but evening
fell, and with it the hollow, deep darkness of the mountains.
Eventually, they decided there was nothing they could
do. The Captain was gone.
didn't have too far to stagger on, thank heaven or hell,
the dead weight across his back was killing him. What
a ragged rock formation that provided some shelter with
its narrow overhang, he snorted at the sight of a dead
tree, still strong. Perfect. Fucking perfect at last.
enemy hadn't even twitched yet, Dan wondered if he had
broken the Russian's skull, he'd be pissed off if he
had, he wanted to make him pay and understand what it
was like to die. Slowly. Inevitably, but not immediately.
Hell, that bastard would see it coming.
the heavy body fall onto the ground, Dan felt a twinge
of satisfaction at the dull thud, doubtlessly causing
bruises. He stored the rifles under the overhanging
rock, then it was time to focus on that dead thing he
had been carrying. A hunter, bearing the trophy home.
Dan laughed, and it was an ugly sound.
to check over the unconscious man, he couldn't take
any chances. Kicking the body until it rolled over onto
the back, he patted the front down, checking inside
every pocket. Packet of nuts in the first, the other
brought a garrotte to light. He stashed everything in
his own pockets, since he hadn't been able to take his
bergan, only the webbing he was wearing on his body
and that had to be sufficient to survive. Additions
spare magazines, Dan slipped them into the pouch at
the small of his back. Opening the Russkie's tunic,
he found a map with some yet indecipherable Cyrillic
code, and then a small item that made him frown. Carefully
wrapped up, a pill. Sniffing the thin coating, he frowned
even more. He wasn't going to cut the tunic and shirt
off, they would come in handy for himself in the cold
nights if he turned them inside out, the Soviet insignias
torn off. Took the scarf off the thick neck before rolling
the body to the side to cut the ties around the wrists.
He had to be fast, pulled the clothes off the upper
body, and found another knife, strapped to the shoulder.
Dan smirked, refusing to acknowledge similarities between
the Russian's penchant for knives and his own.
Army were Killers and Bad. British Forces were Defenders
and Good. Or some such other shit that didn't have much
meaning, just propaganda in a War that had been Cold
for too long.
eyes fell onto the heavily muscled right biceps. Snorting
at the shabby tattoo of a crude running wolf while checking
the Russian's boots and, as predicted, found another
knife. That was it, nothing else. Just belt, camo trousers,
socks and boots on the man.
dragged the man towards the tree, kicked, punched, pulled
and prodded the heavy limbs into position, until he
had the Russian half-kneeling under a low, sturdy branch.
Propping the dead weight up against his thighs, Dan
forced the arms high up between the fucker's back, the
body trying to automatically fall forward, but he kept
it in position while musing how long it would take the
pain to wake the mind into consciousness. He worked
fast. Pushed the arms back down, sturdy wood between
biceps and elbows. There. Crucified on a beam.
smirked, pulled the wrists together in the front as
close as he could, using all his strength and forcing
muscles, sinews and bones almost to breaking point.
Man-made rope cut deeply into skin before he was content
that the fucker was not going to move. He stood back
and looked at his work, studying the picture and smirked.
That's where the bastard belonged: on his knees.
up, Russkie!" Dan shouted, before delivering a
kick to the bare chest. Dog tags jarring against bruises.
tenseness and tightness that had to do with breathing.
Vadim's shoulders were taut, hurt, his chest was constricted,
his arms felt
bad. He opened his eyes, his skull
was thudding with a dull pain, and a massive blow to
the chest sent more pain through his body. His head
jerked up, eyes opened, and he saw. Saw the reporter,
merc, reporter, merc, whatever, hands raised in fists,
just moving back from a kick or punch. Looked like kickboxing
hands were immobilized, he couldn't defend himself.
Knees touched the ground. He coughed, tried to loosen
up the tightness around his lungs.
ever so slowly Vadim realized what position his body
was in. He looked up again, to the dark-haired man whose
face shone with hatred, and downright glee. The thoughts
registered like dripping acid. No way to defend. No
way to fight. He was somewhere else, he couldn't smell
the smoke on the wind, couldn't hear the copters. Alone.
His arms were starting to get numb, and he focused his
attention on them, tried to take some of the stress
off. And meanwhile, a nameless, unspoken dread crept
up inside him. Focus, he thought. Focus on the situation.
Focus on the captor. Thoughts of mutilation, death,
more beatings, even, yes, castration. He'd seen all
of those, on dead and dying bodies. It was a distinct
possibility. After all those years.
Your mind can defeat itself.
was alive. He wasn't severely wounded, only dazed, and
there was one human factor in the equation.
that human factor was the man whose body he had possessed,
broken in, in a fit of vodka and aimless rage. Just
for pleasure. The man who'd given him something he still,
somehow, in an odd way, kept close. The memory of strength,
and, ultimately, victory. Vadim looked at him, tried
to judge the man's intentions, what he was capable of.
yourself into his mind. Try to become the enemy and
you will know. If he was this man, he would interrogate,
meant he would eventually talk. Vadim's main enemy there
was the dizziness. He needed to think clearly, sharply,
fast, and flexible. He would talk. The other soldiers
would come back and look for him, tomorrow. That meant
twelve hours of torture. That was a very long time.
Only, the enemy probably knew of these time constraints,
twelve hours would be hell. The question was how he
would get out of it. Would the merc kill him? He would.
So, withholding information meant he would be kept alive.
He turned these thoughts in his mind, tried to find
other solutions, ways out. Truth was, he didn't want
to die. Truth was, the man had every reason to kill
him for what he had done. Would kill him for it.
if he could accept the fact of his death - that he wouldn't
see the next morning - if he could accept that and make
it the basis of his actions. Part of him screamed in
terror at the concept of death. He felt his breath accelerate,
fighting off that wave of panic. Accept you will die,
Vadim, he repeated to himself, and suppressed the thoughts
of home that came up. It didn't matter where he died,
or even at what age. All people die.
not all people turn traitors before they do. He did
know things, and above all, what his job was. And he
needed to keep that secret. And that meant torture.
And that, again, meant, these were the least painless,
the most pleasant moments that he had left. And he cherished
at last?" Dan smirked, an altogether nasty look
on his face. The handsomeness had vanished, hatred was
turning teeth into fangs, high cheekbones into a glaring
skull and dark eyes into empty, menacing sockets.
that had no name.
to meet you again, Russkie." He fumbled in a pocket,
pulled out a battered packet of coffin nails, took his
time to light a fag. Inhaling deeply, the smoke curled
into the cool evening air, curb-crawling along the edges
I could return sentiment", said Vadim.
Not nice meeting him. Less nice than the other times,
and that included the meeting the grenade had cut short.
He tried to sit up straight to get into any position
that would take off even a fraction of that stress,
but the truth was, his own muscles made it difficult.
A skinny person would be far less uncomfortable.
eh? Sniper." Dan nodded, holding a conversation
with himself. "I have to give you that, you're
good. The way the brains of those terrified kids were
splattering all over their dying mothers' burkhas, that
was skill, really." Taking another deep drag, holding
the nicotine deep in his lungs for a moment.
watched the smoke trail into the evening, wondered how
many men he had shot that had lit up on guard. Sniper.
The natural enemy of the common soldier. "Yes,
sniper. Marksman. Different target, same skill."
nodded, didn't try to hide the satisfaction at the Russian's
obvious discomfort. Good. It was meant to hurt. Like
he had hurt, like
Nothing. Nothing had ever happened and he hated the
fucking Russian for Nothing. Nothing but the war crime.
Nothing but the unnecessary deaths during the slaughter.
was a shift in Dan's facial expression, but he didn't
notice. Too intent on studying the other and fighting
his own thoughts. Cancerous thoughts, mutated cells
eating away at others. The tumour had to be destroyed
before it could grow any further.
should be proud of yourself and I guess you are."
Dan shrugged, just a bloke chatting in a mix of English
and Russian. Pulling on the fag again while his scraped
fingers were searching in another of his parka's pockets.
Fuck him. Vadim would have been proud if he could have
been positive these people had killed Sasha. He would
kill a thousand people on the chance to get the one
killer. Whoever the people were.
a small, wrapped item, Dan stepped closer, holding the
pill under the Russian's nose. He had to lower his hand,
right in front of his groin, to be on the bastard's
eye level. "This, though, tells an interesting
story, don't you think?" Slow gleam of cigarette
end turning bright red as he inhaled again, then let
the smoke escape between the words. "Who are you
looked at the hand, the pill he was supposed to take
to evade capture. He stared at the man's crotch for
a long moment, then at the hand. The packet. Wrapped
against he humidity. But it might dissolve if he swallowed
it whole. Nobody could save him, there was no hospital,
not even a medic. He relaxed, looked up, as if to say
'I have no idea', then lunged forward, tried to snatch
the pill with his teeth.
reaction was fast, a trained killer's split-second reactions
that decided over life and death, and he laughed tonelessly
as his fist closed and pulled away.
teeth clacked empty, and at the same time, a tearing
pain shot through his arms. He suppressed a sound of
pain, breathed hard against it, against the stress that
flared up. "Am...phetamines", he murmured.
again, fucker." The fist that had pulled back was
flying towards the Russkie's face. Perfect aim towards
the nose, knuckles connecting with cartilage and bone.
pain shot through Vadim's skull like a bullet, he felt
the nose break, smelt blood, and felt it run out of
his nose. He opened his lips, suppressing the pain,
eyes watering, everything turned into a blur of tears,
of throbbing red, metallic pain right between his eyes.
shook out his fist, aching from the impact, while pulling
a last drag from the fag in his other hand. He shrugged
and looked down at the glowing end before moving his
hand. "Try again."
looked up, saw the cigarette come close, tried to get
away, but he could have been tied to a pillar of cement.
His breath accelerated, fast, nauseous shot of stress,
and he screamed from the pain as the cigarette was slowly
stubbed out on his skin, with a sizzling sound of burning
flesh and evaporating sweat.
and sweat ran over Vadim's face. This, he thought, is
then the real deal. Torture. Not a simulation, not a
course to determine how suitable he was for command.
His head lowered, blinking away tears, watching how
the blood trickled into the dirt. Nose one agonizing
mass. And it was just a beginning. He had a cover story,
but if he gave that up too fast, the merc would know
that it was fake. He could only yield the information
when so close to the breaking point that there was almost
analgesic. Just in case I get shot up."
Vadim looked up. "No morphine." Body coiled,
awaiting more pain from the merc. "I'm para. You
fucking know that."
as much a para as I am a reporter." The evening
was getting darker, but never as dark as that coiled
up hatred inside Dan. That thing he could not see nor
had all the reasons in the world to hate that Russian.
A sniper. A ruthless murderer. A liar. Watching the
bleeding face dispassionately, Dan slipped the wrapped
pill back into a pocket. His eyes were drawn to the
angry red mark in the hollow of the Russian's throat.
So many shades of red. Blood, swollen flesh, burnt skin.
know your name, your rank, your number." He didn't
even bother to grab the dog tags. He knew, he fucking
well knew. He'd done his homework before the press conference.
"Sports hero Krasnorada." Dan snorted mockingly.
"You're more than that and you will tell me before
I kill you."
shudder ran over Vadim's skin. Sports hero. It had been
ages. He had only been a tool for the USSR to prove
the fact that Soviets were better people. Worked harder,
were more selfless, more devoted. Mentally and physically
sound. If not for Boris, who knew. They might have won
shook his head, tried to think clearly. Swallowing hurt,
the small dot of agony right between his collar bones.
The pill was a giveaway. If the merc knew what it was
- and he could certainly guess, not the least by how
he had reacted at the off-chance to get to it - he knew
what it was for.
glanced up at the darkening sky; it would get freezing
cold over night. "Let's face it, Russkie, you're
going to die. The only question is how long it will
take." He shrugged, "I have time." And
he would make sure his enemy wouldn't be able to warn
any possible search party.
he repeated Vadim's own thoughts to him struck deep.
Accept you will die, Vadim, he repeated, yet again.
Accept that there is one thing nobody can win against.
The one, last, worst defeat of every human being.
should have killed me when you had the chance."
Dan threw away the comment.
craned his neck when his captor moved around him, stepping
behind his crucified body, then felt a hand creeping
along his jaw to cradle the chin. If the enemy took
his head with his elbow, he could just break his neck.
Vadim's shoulders tensed, and he could hear himself
pant with stress. The hand felt good on his skin, menacing,
but strong, and sure. He tried to shake his head, tried
to purge the fear. Exist. Breathe.
drafted after my career was over. Shortage
of men. I became officer. To pay people back what they
have done for me. They made it possible." Official
party doctrine. He was nothing special, just one that
rose, briefly, carried up by the will of the people.
a fucking liar." Dan shook his head in the other's
back while cradling the face with his left. The other
hand slipping into a pocket of the PLCE that was closest
to his heart. How ironic.
needed to know, there was nothing that held him back.
Had to know the truth, to understand how it could have
happened that he, Dan McFadyen, member of the Special
Airborne Services, one of the top dogs of all males
in the British Forces, that he, a man, not just any
man, but the man, could have been overpowered,
undertaken and abus
had to know. Who and what was this Russian, the only
one who had ever won the upper hand, and who
are you." Once more, so quiet now. Murmured almost.
That dark voice as much a caress as the calloused fingers
that lay in mocking tenderness against the chiselled
shuddered hard. The absence of pain made this erotic,
he was beginning to listen, really listen to the madman
who had captured him. Felt his weight shift, smelled
his hand. Fucking insanity to feel anything, to not
be stone, but it was the other way round. His body wanted
to live, everything was intense, the voice, rough with
hatred, the hand, strong, as strong as he remembered
that body. He remembered that body.
are you really, Russkie." Dan forced the head back,
as far into the neck as it could go. The other hand
holding something, its thumb pressing against the corner
of the Russian's mouth. "Who are you."
swear, I am Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada. I can't fake
my past. Can't fake what I did. I have thousands of
witnesses." Vadim tried to see what it was, anticipated
a knife, and tensed. Fear. The other would blind him,
cut open his face. He shuddered, violently, felt his
throat being stretched, and he looked at the man looming
over him. His pulse raced, thundered in his throat.
Vanya had died like that. Maybe even on his knees. "It's
standard issue for my rank. They don't want officers
to get captured. I'm supposed to kill myself. I'd rather
kill myself than fall into their hands." 'Your
hands', his thoughts corrected. The desperate need to
live. His body was tense, nervously awaiting the next
shift of his body and Dan moved even closer to steady
his hold. Cradling the head against his groin, looking
down while standing. "That's bullshit." Softly,
but he had to know. Didn't believe the Russian would
be able to continue to lie to get out of this. On the
contrary, he did expect him to say nothing but the truth
when he was done. If he was ever done.
will tell me who you really are and what your job is.
Your affiliation, your regiment, whatever you want to
call it. You're not a para," Dan smiled, the expression
so cold, it rivalled the freezing nights in the mountains,
"you're too good to be a para." Strange compliment,
but it seemed to make perfect sense to him.
closed his eyes. Oh fuck. What if the enemy knew? What
if there had been a leak, a double agent, maybe somebody
had gotten captured, spilled the beans. No. Fuck, no.
What if they had intercepted communications. But then,
there was no regiment, no codenames that were used,
ever. Officially. Fucking spooks knew their business.
He couldn't be the first one to break. The first one
to confirm. He felt the man close, impossibly close,
could smell him, feel the heat from his body. It was
cold, the other man was warm, hot even.
thumb began to force its way between Vadim's lips and
the vice grip of his head between his body and hand
made it impossible to bite. He couldn't close his mouth,
that was how he breathed with the nose completely swollen
struggled, threw his weight against the branch that
held him crucified, but the hand was insistent, holding
a rag stained with gun oil. A gag, to keep him from
screaming. As if anybody would listen. Vadim recognized
the smell, the taste, thought of the merc's body against
him and improvised lube. Oh fuck. What if the enemy
set this alight, burned his mouth, his face? The panic
was so intense that his mind clouded. The fear blinded
him, choked him worse than the thing in his mouth.
mind can defeat you, Vadim.
fabric was being forced deeper and deeper into the mouth,
down the throat. Pushing relentlessly, Dan counted on
reflex and sheer brutal force. Obstructing the throat
from the inside out.
Entering. Forcing. Breaching a body.
never realised he was getting hard.
tried to get what air he could, tried to hold his breath,
his heart racing so fast, every fibre in his body in
a state of fear that ate the oxygen. He struggled, the
panic forced his heart to beat so fast and hard it hurt.
He tried to swallow, nothing worked, and there was a
wordless sound from deep in his throat as he wanted
to scream. He stared at those gleeful eyes, and couldn't
suppress the tears, his eyes watering, a normal response,
but he felt pathetic, would do anything to be able to
studied the man, the reactions. Noted every change,
each sign. He had been well trained. 'Interrogation
techniques', and he'd been on the receiving end himself.
He knew what it felt like, experience made it all the
better. He'd never thought he would excel in the subject
make it easy for you, Russkie." Dan leant down,
spoke close to his captive's ears. "You tell me
the truth and I might let you live. You lie and you
die." Knew the panic could make rational thought
difficult. The body was so tense and tight against him,
the Russian felt like a statue hewn from stone. Warm
stone, hot flesh.
push, deeper even. Dan knew he didn't have much time
left before the enemy collapsed. His fingers inside
the heat of the mouth, moisture wicked up by the rag.
have heard enough about your so-called Spetsnaz, your
Special Forces, there's no need to pretend they don't
exist. Answer me, cunt, are you Spetsnaz?"
panic overwhelmed Vadim, his throat hurt, stretched,
raw, but nothing against the panic.
didn't matter, he knew. He fucking knew. His cover story.
Spetsnaz. Yes. That word. Not the other. Vadim nodded,
nodded on the verge of collapse, fought again, struggled
to break free, not die like this.
to his word, at least that - always that, Dan pulled
the rag out of the throat. He'd seen men throw up helplessly
at the speed with which the object was retracted, expected
no less from the Russian bastard. His hand loosened
the vice grip, allowing some movement of the head, the
other hung by his side, gun cleaning rag discarded.
fought the rising bile helplessly, breathing, breathing
in short hard gulps, trying to fight the nausea that
came up from his body, welled up. No need to suffer,
he let his head fall, freed it from the hand long enough
to throw up the bile and what water had been in his
stomach. He tried to wipe his lips on his shoulder,
away from that touching hand.
legs were touching the other's back, those bound arms
digging into his thighs, and he felt nothing at the
confession. Nothing, until the flood of relief took
him by surprise.
Forces. Preparing the offensive." Dan nodded, his
hand still resting on top of one overstretched shoulder.
Something wrong, though, something nagging at is mind,
a physical sensation that was lingering in his body.
"Tomorrow you will tell me to whom you are attached."
could not seriously be a tomorrow? Vadim saw no camp,
no provisions, no water. No insulation against the elements.
"105th Guards Airborne Division." It was close
enough. Spetsnaz had moved in to secure the airport
before the 105th arrived. And amidst those people, the
KGB branch. Vympel. Fuck you. Don't even think the word.
Division?" Dan shrugged, took a step back and the
warmth of his body left, exposing the other's bare skin
to the biting cold that was beginning to settle. "We'll
see tomorrow if I believe you. That is," he stepped
into the line of his enemy's vision, "if you are
over to the bundle with the Russian's uniform shirt
and tunic, he slipped into the latter, additional warmth
against the elements. "There is a reason you are
here and I want to know it."
had some water in his PLCE, it would have to do. He'd
gone without food for longer. Tomorrow; tomorrow he'd
kill that bastard and then find his way out of the mountains.
stopped when he heard the question, turned to look at
the other. Pondering, judging. Hell, what the fuck did
it matter. "I am SAS, cunt."
that he turned and moved beneath the shelter of the
overhanging rock, reaching for his SA-80 and all the
additional clothing he could find. Ready to curl up
and get some sleep.
Vadim felt his throat constrict with laughter, and knew
he was being hysterical. SAS. The very model of the
Spetsnaz. Why invent the wheel yet again. One special
forces in the world that the Soviet Union coveted. SAS.
Father and mother and sibling. As good as family. The
model, the cast.
craned his neck to see the man, as the pain in his face,
in his throat slowly subsided and was replaced with
a dull throbbing. He couldn't feel his legs anymore.
His shoulders tightened up, felt like they were twisted
several times, and ever more. No way he could sleep.
He didn't want to. This was his last night. Enough to
think about. He didn't want to waste his time.
first thing that felt really cold was the dog tags on
his chest. A kiss of ice. Vadim breathed, stared off
into the sky. So many stars. He wished he knew their
names beyond the ones he could use to navigate by. Ursa
major. Ursa minor. Big bear and small bear. He could
read the time from them, how they changed position with
the rest of the sky.
fell asleep, reasonably sheltered against the cold,
rifle clutched in his hand, lips so close he almost
kissed the metal. Found some rest, but woke, too early,
too dark. Alone with his thoughts and the human shape
amidst the darkness, faintly illuminated from a sickle
moon and an overwhelming abundance of stars.
felt nothing, except for the lingering relief that the
man who had overpowered him had been Special Forces.
Spetsnaz, the best. The very best right after the SAS.
He'd already forgotten the other Russian, the one he
had killed. The fact they had been two and not just
one did not matter. It had been this one, the still
shape in a silent night, who caught his eye, back in
that goddamned din in Kabul, and who had taken him by
have to die. Dan knew his duty, understood the rules,
words - no thoughts. He had to do it, remembered he
wanted to. Yet executing one's fellow man was never
an easy task. Perhaps he stalled tonight.
cold grew worse, much worse. Moisture settled on Vadim,
and he was shivering uncontrollably before the night
was halfway over. The cramps in his arms and legs, and
the stinging, throbbing pain everywhere kept him awake,
and every now and then he managed to tear his mind off
the pain and think of Sasha. And Katya. His family.
The place in Moscow he had called home. His parents.
Now that the SAS soldier was asleep, he could think
of them, could allow them to be in his mind.
regretted, mostly to have been captured, maybe to disappoint
them. Most of all to leave them behind. If he was killed
in action, at least Katya would get a pension, but it
did not replace his salary. And money was tight as it
pain became so bad he could hardly think. Every minute
a bone wrecking cramp, he couldn't feel his legs, but
everything he could feel hurt.
was ready to die when the sun came up.
woke up when dawn broke. The Russian seemed to be alive.
Good. He had the last of the water, then stretched while
sitting, searched his webbing and reached for the compass.
Hissed softly between his teeth. He hadn't noticed the
compass was fucked. The map as useless as an embroidered
doily on an officer's desk. The fucking mountains. He
put the compass away, ignored the dread, he'd been in
worse situations. First to deal with the Russian.
was being wrecked by cramps. Everything, his chest,
his legs, his arms, his shoulders, he bit his lips to
not scream, because he didn't want the other to wake
up and put a bullet through his head.
wanted to at least appear a little dignified. Breathing
harshly against the pain, trying hard to suppress any
sound. It gnawed on his body like a thousand hungry
rats. Vadim wanted it to stop. More than anything. His
body was cold, shivering, he was exhausted from the
tension, the cramps and the shudders that his body had
used to stay warm. Run down, worn out, cold, above all
turned his head, saw the SAS guy emerge. He'd been right,
all along. They were equals. Who had so far failed to
kill each other. But this time, they were alone, and
the other wasn't drunk enough to leave the killing to
a comrade, like he had been.
fucking mistake. It all had been a fucking mistake.
Jump him in the street and take him, take him, even
though that had been the only thing he had needed, the
only thing that could sate him and make him feel content.
A mistake. Even though it had been the best fuck in
laughed to himself, tonelessly, a small sound that failed
to expand his cramped chest. "Good morning",
he murmured. Vicious envy at the clothes, the gun, the
fact the other could stand and even move.
brows raised while walking closer to the Russian, studying
him with interest, like a professor would examine a
got stamina." The words were out and with them
a strange sense of respect for the strength of another,
before Dan thought even twice. He frowned, a heartbeat
off the track by that unexpected sensation. Then he
shrugged, pulling the pistol out of its holster, checking
the magazine. All without another word and with professional
tried to pull himself together. He was in agony, but
he couldn't allow the enemy to see that. Now, that was
what the other had in mind. Take him out right now.
Why the fuck had he even waited the night? He tried
to straighten, and failed. Nothing obeyed him. The body
the last thing to betray him, after his unit, his luck.
Spetsnaz, ready to tell me your affiliation?" The
weapon weight comfortable in Dan's hand. Familiar and
deadly. He'd never executed a fellow man like this before.
Cold blooded, calculated. But what did it mean 'cold
blooded'? Anything out of the adrenaline insane hell
of the battlefield could be considered 'cold blooded'.
was a necessity. His duty. Despite the moment of confusion
and uncertainty he had felt in the night, watching the
dark shape, he believed he could lay the Nothing finally
to rest, if he pulled the trigger. Dan raised his hand,
almost gently placed the muzzle against his enemy's
had the Russian said? One perfect memory.
heart stopped as the pistol pointed in his direction,
and it didn't beat when it touched his forehead. He
stared at the enemy, denounced what he had thought for
a hundred times during the night. He wasn't ready to
die. Just cramps. They would stop, eventually. He didn't
want to die. Couldn't just let go.
Guards Airborne." Vadim suddenly laughed. "And
you can't drink the water from the well. You can't drink
any water from any village around here." He bared
his lips, dry and parched, fuck, whatever. "There
is water, but you won't find it." He raised himself
up in a final gesture of defiance, and took the muzzle
between his lips. He didn't trust that kind of shot.
Through the roof of the mouth was more secure. That
was how he executed.
eyes narrowed, lips tightened into a thin line. Fuck.
Fuck! Anger flared the moment the realisation
hit home. The fucking Russian wasn't lying. Poison,
goddamned motherfucking bastards had poisoned the wells,
wasn't the first time.
been tricked by that cunt. Again. Once again taken out
by surprise, he leant close, muzzle steady between those
lips, his voice snarling in hatred. Defeat. The loss
of his fucking victory.
you will get me to the water!"
never imagined he could hate the Russian even more than
on that night in Kabul. Abruptly pulling the pistol
out of the Russian's mouth, he flicked his hand and
came crashing down against the temple.
felt nothing but relief. That meant he'd live. They'd
both live. Then, again, a sharp pain, and the lights
on. Vadim woke up from vomiting, acid searing his raw
throat, mouth, mingling on the ground with dust and
stone. He saw the SAS guy pull his leg back. The bastard
had kicked him in the stomach. No blood in the bile,
the kick hadn't been hard enough to rupture anything.
At least nothing so obvious.
was lying on the side, he could feel his legs, even
though the only thing he could feel was pain. His legs
were tied with rope, a length of rope that would allow
him to shuffle along. Not enough to run or kick. His
arms were behind his back, wrists crossed, and attached
to something. Something around his neck. More rope.
What the fuck
groaned, spit out more bile. He felt dizzy with dehydration,
exhausted, couldn't have been unconscious for long.
Minutes, not hours.
up." Dan's sharp voice spat out the order. His
SA-80 trained at the man on the ground, the Dragunov
rifle tied onto the webbing across his back. He'd had
some of the nuts he had found in the Russian's pockets,
but he was hungry, let alone thirsty. Couldn't be helped
the fuck up and find water." He could see the other
struggle, studied him dispassionately like a bug, ready
to be dissected. Anger emanated from him, it was obvious
that all he wanted to do was put a bullet through the
Russian, and instead had to depend on him.
in Vadim's body seemed to be able to support his own
weight. He felt like he was broken in several places,
but then, the parts of the machine that was his body
realigned and started to fit together, muscles and tendons,
prime shape was now merely workable. His stomach pressed
up bile again as he staggered to his feet, his upper
body agony, his stomach one hard, hurt, sore piece of
shrapnel inside. Glancing at the man, Vadim didn't even
know what he felt, maybe relief that the enemy hadn't
killed him. But that relief turned to lead in his heart,
a sinking feeling.
tricks, fucker, or I take you to the Mujahideen."
Dan bared his teeth, smirked.
all costs, no. He's fucking your mind, Vadim thought.
He needs you as a guide, he can't deliver you into their
hands. He nodded, kept his glance down, didn't want
to show the man anything, nothing in his face, nothing
in his eyes, sullen and stoic just like one of the fucking
wasn't taking the piss when he threatened his enemy
to hand him over to the insurgents. Not if he tried
to trick him. The Russian needed water, more urgently
than he did, to lead him to a poisoned supply would
be suicide -and since that fucker had been so obviously
keen on living, it was highly unlikely.
but Dan didn't trust anything or anyone. Trust was to
sleep with a knife under the pillow, that was the closest
he would ever get. He intended to take the arsehole
to the British embassy or perhaps the stupid Amerikanskis.
One of them would make a P.O.W. out of the bastard,
put him in front of a war crime tribunal and Dan would
never have to hear of him again. That was, if he managed
not to kill the cunt after all. A bullet through the
Russkie's brain still seemed like a damn good option.
started walking. Knowing the direction, vaguely, as
soon as he had gotten his bearings. The neighbouring
valley to the one where they had attacked. He knew how
the karez went here, had been part of the recce, and
he had this habit to understand where the basic resources
were. Bleeding, vomit, nothing to drink for about eight
or ten hours. He'd need water soon enough.
found a rhythm, moving over the broken territory with
his arms twisted and tied up, even worked out how to
deal with the rope between his feet that seemed intent
to catch rocks or make him stumble when he tried to
fall into his normal stride. It didn't allow that, and
that forced him to concentrate on the pure act of walking.
sun came up and started burning Vadim's shoulders, collarbones,
nose, his face, burnt down on his shorn head. He could
really have used that rag now, but he was sure it would
be declined. Sun burn, and worse. He grew a splitting
headache over midday, and thought, but slowly, ever
so slowly, reaching out to the next slow thought when
he had finished the last one. The SAS guy could be played,
he understood. He had already won in being alive this
long. He could, if he did it right, find more ways to
defeat him, to keep his own morale up, because that
was the main challenge with the constant pain. Cling
to small stuff. He needed that, to at least project
a semblance of strength and determination.
day wore on, Dan wrapped the rag around his head to
protect himself from the sun and merciless heat, step
after step, following the Russian. He had an idea where
he was, not unknown to the region, but without the compass
he was potentially lost if luck ran out for him. Wasn't
bothered, though. He'd get to water and then back into
the valleys. He'd live, but the enemy? Who the fuck
after hour, Dan watched the forcibly short steps that
rarely faltered, somewhere in the back of his mind the
professional soldier admired the other's stamina. The
way the Spetsnaz managed to keep himself from choking
for such a long time spoke of superior mental and physical
strength, but then Dan knew about it, didn't he? Had
tasted the physical power.
face was closed and angry, deep in thoughts while marching
on, when the Russian suddenly stopped.
functions. Vadim really wished there weren't any. Not
when his hands were tied up. He turned around and looked
at the man who seemed just as dizzy as he felt. His
shoulders were killing him, but he knew what would happen
if his strength waned. Choking, unconsciousness, probably
a hard fall, again, and more pain. Definitely humiliation.
He swallowed, felt the parched throat. Maybe another
hour. Almost expected a rifle butt, a fist or a kick.
He was not supposed to stop. "I need to piss."
what?" The fucking Russian had to be joking. "Just
piss already." Just like this, into the trousers,
and why the hell not.
the English was unwieldy in Vadim's throbbing brain,
while he tried to appear less stoic, less stony. "I
need to piss. Just untie me for second, I won't run.
Fuck, I can't run." He had worked so hard on the
words on the way here. There were plenty of good, pointy
rocks on the ground. More than he would need. "Come
lowered his gaze, appearing, hopefully, meek and cut
to size, like he had learnt a lesson. This last fight
could well end badly, but better try it now when he
had still a little strength left - and while he knew
where he was.
only received laughter as an answer. It sounded dry
and scratchy, Dan hadn't had much more water than the
Russian. Only a couple of mouthfuls. "How fucking
stupid do you think I am?" Dan stepped closer,
pushed the muzzle of the rifle deep into the other's
stomach. Slowly, for once, not hitting nor kicking.
inhaled sharply as the hot muzzle touched his flesh.
Thought for a blinding moment he'd shoot him in the
guts and let him die slowly, really slowly. The fear
was back, acid on his brain, eating. He closed his eyes,
tensed his muscles, ridiculous protection against a
high speed bullet.
tell you what, Russkie. I tell you what I would do in
your situation." Dan's lips were chapped, despite
the rag, his tongue felt swollen in his mouth, and the
voice was rougher. "I would try to get my hands
free, grab one of those damn sharp rocks over there,
and attempt to knock my captor out."
grinned, baring his teeth. "I'm SAS, you are Spetsnaz.
How much fucking chance is there that you aren't planning
to do the exact same fucking thing? No," the rifle
slipped, pushed against the metal plaque of the belt,
forcing it downwards, "you piss without your hands."
felt the muzzle pull against the belt. The star on it
showed his allegiance, clearly, and below that
the Brit could shoot him in the groin. No need to ever
piss again. He tried to control his breathing, but he
was already panting like a dog through his mouth. No
go through the nose. "Listen." That bit came
out too fast, and Vadim wrestled the fear for a long
moment. "Don't be complete bastard." He looked
into the man's eyes.
eyes narrowed, looking straight into the other's. He
remembered them to be icy blue, too pale, too striking.
He hadn't forgotten them since Kabul. Now one was half
swollen shut, the other red and bloodied, and yet they
still were this same motherfucking piercing colour.
continued, "Last time I pissed my pants was basic
training. And I hadn't slept for week. You're soldier."
He noticed he'd slipped the articles. Still speaking
English. Both languages waltzed through his overheated
brain and whirled around so it was impossible to tell
which one it was. English. Articles. Restricted sentence
he was a soldier, Dan hadn't forgotten it, but what
was the other? "Why the fuck would I grant you
that dignity?" The sun-heated metal pushed further
said, I'm Spetsnaz. Yes, I am." Vadim inhaled deeply,
fought the fear and nausea, his body, the weight of
his arms. "You did enough already. How much do
you have to defeat me? Are you that scared?" Fuck.
Too far, too much. Far too much.
Dan's anger exploded across his face, driving the rifle
home, deep into the abdomen, but the lack of distance
kept the worst force away. Physical violence always
the first reaction. "You fucking piece of shit!"
behind the Russian's neck, he grabbed the short rope
that connected neck and arms. "The only reason
you cunt are alive is the water. Make no mistake, shithead,
I rather die myself than let you go." He stepped
closer, body to body, gave a sharp, brutal pull on the
rope, watched it dig deeply into the throat.
inhaled sharply, the pull made him sway on his feet,
machine less balanced than it had been. The rope dug
in, burnt, burnt, blurred his vision. That bastard was
fucking strong, and he couldn't help it, but the strength
did something to him, he was on the receiving end this
time, and he needed to remember what that was like.
Could have been like. He tried to focus his eyes as
his body screamed at him for lack of oxygen.
his lips formed, soundlessly. Just that. He couldn't
say more. It had been ages that he had actually meant
it when he pleaded.
that one word, where endless arguing would have achieved
nothing, but that one, simple word. "Fuck."
Dan hissed, anger defeated. He let go of the rope and
eased the pressure behind the rifle. "Fuck you,
Russkie." The words lacked most of their earlier
Between his teeth, Dan didn't want to do this - could
not do it. Put the rifle down, no way the bastard
could trick him right now, he'd beat the shit out of
him before the Russian could try anything. Fiddling
for a moment with the square belt buckle, he knew them
by heart, just like his own uniform's except for the
insignia, but it didn't make it any easier. Those goddamned
hooks were meant to be opened by the wearer.
shivered, shivered badly as the SAS soldier unbuckled
his belt. In this situation? Leave him like this, punch
him again. His stomach was tense, pattern forming through
the skin. The pattern he had taken so much pain to develop.
So much time. Discipline. Crunches until he couldn't
breathe, with weights, without weights, tilted, straight,
dangling from one of the metal bunk bed, bringing his
torso up, agonizingly slow. A knife hidden under his
crossed arms, just in case anybody chose this moment
to start a fight.
close, too fucking close and Dan smelled heat, skin,
blood and pain. Pain, yes, could smell its essence,
it crept into his nostrils, dried blood, sweat and bile
constricted his parched throat even further. This could
be him instead. It had been him. Kabul.
and scraped fingers managed to push buttons through
their holes, his movements full of disgust. He dropped
the camo trousers as if they were contaminated, didn't
care that they slipped down the hips, stopped at the
knees, threatened to pool around the tied ankles.
couldn't even look down at himself, the shoulder held
him in that awkward position, his own body defying him.
In other circumstances
he had needed help dressing
and undressing when his wrists were broken, both at
the same time, fucking nuisance. Absolutely nothing
he could do alone. He didn't mind the helping.
must be fucking joking." Toneless, Dan stared at
the briefs, but fuck, couldn't say the words that were
on the forefront of his mind. 'I'm not taking your motherfucking
cock out! I'm not touching your dick, arsehole.' Couldn't
say them out loud.
eh? You'd be a fool, Daniel McFadyen.
Had to get this over quick. Handling another bloke's
cock? He wasn't a fucking fag, wanted to burn all shit-stabbers,
to bash every cocksucker's brain in. Like this one.
Shit-stabber. Fucker. Rap
Nothing. Fucking faggot arsewipe of a Russian cunt had
didn't notice that he had stalled for an obvious moment,
staring unmoving at the bulk in the briefs. Grabbed
the waistband at last, pushed them down with one angry
movement, forced to take hold of the cock with his hand
to free it sufficiently.
Vadim tensed up more, wanted his hands free, to cover,
to protect, to dress. The touch made him nervous, not
exactly something he wanted to think of up here in the
mountains, tied up and beaten as he was.
He'd had him. They had been closer than this, much closer.
It couldn't get any closer than inside that amazing,
struggling heat. Vadim's body reacted to the memory,
and Vadim fought hard not to smirk.
tiny victory, almost inconsequential, but he knew the
man was fundamentally honourable. Empathic. Which meant
he wasn't ignorant to what he was thinking - or thought
Vadim was thinking - and also meant he had a weakness
he could exploit.
it, pizda." Dan grabbed the rifle, stepped back,
avoided to stare at the Russian's exposed groin, moved
into his back instead. "Piss, cunt."
Pizda in English.
care about it, Vadim. Don't let them ever tell you what
you are feeling keeps you from winning.
long ago, it had unnerved him, scared him. Vadim had
known he wanted things that made him disgusting, despicable,
made him the worst curse that the other boys could imagine.
He doubted they knew what it was they cursed. The treasure
of feeling, the one place in his heart where he wasn't
the Soviet Union's property, wasn't the young model
athlete. Not propaganda poster material.
been fascinated by the stories he had heard from other
athletes. About people who did this quite openly, blatantly,
still nervous, but no longer scared out of their minds.
He followed the SAS soldier with his eyes, turned his
head. Saw that that man was far more unnerved than he
was. 'I may be a faggot, but I held your life in my
hand', he thought. 'And that is what counts'.
shook his head, then focused on pissing without hitting
the SAS soldier plenty of time to study his backside,
the straining, twisted arms, legs apart as far as the
rope allowed, for a secure position despite being dizzy
as hell, ass tensed, round, his skin paler past the
belt line, but still tanned enough to betray he did
catch some sun every now and then.
swimming. Whenever he could. The parallel dimples over
his ass, lines of muscle that ran from his hips to his
groin, strong legs with blonde hair, the body the cameras
had liked so much.
remembered the snide remarks, had read the newspapers,
haltingly, he didn't trust his English, a lot of people
laughed when he spoke. They said he sounded endearing.
Insecure. He was nervous about mingling with the others,
only relaxed when he could focus on what he knew.
and Krasnorada perches on his horse like a swimmer.
Or should that be a wet Siberian tiger cub?"
fucking ha. They all knew he'd been part of the swimming
cadre, and then reassigned, because Vadim was never
fast enough to compete with the fastest. And that was
it. The fencer that should be plowing water, the rider
that didn't ride a wave, but a horse. Only with shooting
and running did the comments subside a little. He was
fast, and accurate.
cameras, however, loved him. Even Vadim's coach had
shaken his head. "Cameras become you. You're already
booked for a bunch of interviews." And you haven't
even won anything yet, was what Vadim heard, but nobody
opportunities to speak halting English. Cameras. People
handed Vadim free stuff so he wore them, clothes with
labels, mostly. People sent him letters. They could
write pages and pages about how he looked on the TV
laughed dryly. Those people should see him now. That
thought went deep, and he cursed his vanity. It didn't
matter. The SAS soldier would end all that with a bullet.
Unless he could twist him around enough to survive this.
glanced over his shoulder. "Nurse. I'm finished."
didn't answer. Hadn't heard and paid no attention, thus
didn't kick nor hit at the mockery of 'nurse'. He was
still standing, just like before, staring at the back
of the Russian. He was thirsty, dizzy, perhaps that
was what had torn down any defences he'd put up before.
arse. This ... this ... this perfect smooth-round-strength
shape that tapered into waist, back, up to shoulders.
Broad. Tense now, muscles bunching, relaxing, cording
again. Skin sunburnt and pale alike, stretching almost
flawlessly over hard expanses of muscles, bones, sinews
reaction, for too long. He didn't have a clue how long
it really took before he caught himself with a jerk.
the fuck? What the bloody goddamned motherfucking fuck
had he just been staring at?
said nothing, realised he didn't have any idea what
the Russian had mocked and stepped back towards him,
with obvious distaste grabbing the damp cock. Distaste.
Disgusting. Tried to stuff it swiftly back into the
once white briefs, failed. Had to pick up the waistband
first, handle the cock once more, while the rifle was
secured under his arm. He hissed a curse through his
question, to Vadim, was what was more tantalising, the
rifle within kissing range or the man standing right
before him. Seemed the Brit grew meek, or it was disgust,
and more. The 'more' caught Vadim's attention for a
moment, and he tried not to flinch as he was handled
like that. He could hardly expect that guy to treat
him nicely and maybe suck it. That would be asking too
much. He breathed laughter at the thought, nostrils
widened and he controlled the laughter, but not the
grin. "Thanks. Now I take you to water."
began to march straight away, the small rest hadn't
really refreshed him, not nearly as much as his enemy
had done with that little show of nerves.
was once again walking behind the Russian, carefully
checking the terrain. Not for a moment trusting the
apparently weak state of his enemy. No matter how much
it seemed the Russian was in a useless condition, it
could well be a ruse. He'd certainly use any trick he
could if he were in the fucker's position ...
walked on, climbed another saddle of another fucking
mountain, and crossed the line in his little internal
map. This was one of the killing zones. Cleaning. Nobody
was allowed here who was not Soviet or affiliated. He
recognised the characteristic structure in the rock
- the covered karez tunnels. Underneath ran water, a
couple yards down in the rock. Vadim walked on, then
stopped. "Lift that cover. Water's down there."
Nodding at the ground. He could almost smell it.
looked around, taking in everything. Formation, location,
smell even. He might need this knowledge in the future.
Without a word moving towards the cover, he was thirsty,
but he'd let the Russian drink first. The water could
be poisoned, after all. Kneeling down beside it, he
checked on the enemy before lifting the cover and motioning
the other over. "You better be right."
was grateful he could drop to his knees. A goatskin
bag on a rope, that was how they got the water up, and
he could hardly wait, then forced himself to discipline.
Fuck. Not going to get overly excited. I'm fucked up,
but not that bad yet. He checked the surroundings, no
poison canisters, no dead animals, they probably hadn't
poisoned the water. Not his people.
bag came up, spilling water, and Vadim bowed down, lips
almost touching the ground to drink. Like an animal,
but that really didn't matter now. His arms killed him,
but it was water. Forcing himself to drink slowly, the
water was cold, fresh, tasted of stones, of the whole
was watching the Russian, rifle always trained on the
man. Helpless or not, he wouldn't trust him for one
second. The water was going down, and then he waited.
Nothing. No sign of poisoning. He was desperate for
water, finally, after several minutes, reaching for
the goatskin and drinking in large, thirsty gulps, but
stopping himself after half a dozen. It wouldn't do
to get sick, not with that cunt nearby.
waited, watched the SAS guy drink. Among comrades, he
knew one of them would joke by faking stomach cramps,
but the other was so unnerved he would shoot him. Besides,
nothing to gain by it.
closed his eyes for a split moment, just relishing how
the water ran down his parched throat, loosening the
swollen tongue from the roof of his palate and quenching
a thirst that had started to become debilitating. He
kept the Russian in the corner of his eyes while refilling
his bottle. He'd have to allow that bastard to drink
some more. Wouldn't do if the arsewipe died before he
had taken him to another waterhole, on the way back
out of the mountains.
leaned against a rock, he wanted to lie down and sleep,
without his arms being twisted out of their sockets,
they hurt so much he wished they'd stop, forever, and
his strength started to wane. He could feel the rope
dig into his throat, and he knew he couldn't hold out
forever. Soon. He leaned his head against a rock that
provided a little shade. Rough, hot, dry. He could feel
sweat trickle down his face, down his back. He was dizzy,
and everything hurt. His nose was a dull ache that the
tried not to think about.
SAS guy was just pulling up another bag of water, to
refill his bottle, when Vadim heard the familiar heartbeat
of a copter. Hind. With more speed and energy than he
would have believed possible, he crossed the ground
between himself and the SAS guy and
lifted his head at the sound, was about to grab the
rifle, but he was too late, tricked again. He saw the
Russian coming towards him, couldn't take a grip on
anything and lost his balance when the fucker jumped
into his back, both feet forward, and he fell into that
goddamned hole while howling in anger.
hit the ground hard, but what utter satisfaction as
the fucking enemy vanished down the hole. He forced
himself up again, began to run, trot, move out onto
open ground, could see the copter now, was pretty sure
the copter pilot saw him as well, tried to shout for
him, saw the copter come in low, circle, to check the
ground for danger, then gained altitude and moved away.
stood there, dumbstruck, and couldn't believe it. Just
simply did not believe the pilot hadn't seen him, or
thought it was too dangerous to land. What a fucking
though, had fallen into the tunnel, but instead of endlessly
falling to be smashed into blood and gore on the bottom,
he hit the wet sand soon. Very soon. He could see the
light at the top and the sand leading towards it, even
though right now he was stuck in the water.
bastard!" Dan yelled, out of his mind with anger,
not even taking the time to check over himself nor to
ascertain the situation. Fucker, bastard, bloody hated
cunt of a Russian piece of shit. He'd get him, the son
of a bitch couldn't get far, and when he got him, he'd
destroy that shithead forever.
looked back to the hole, saw his rifle lie there, but
impossible to do anything with a sniper rifle when he
was bound. All he could do now was kick and headbutt,
and he had a feeling that wouldn't be enough. He looked
up the mountain, the rocks and crevasses. If he could
hide there long enough. If the SAS guy lost him somewhere.
could die. He could run into Mujahideen, he could fall
and break something, or die of exposure. He started
to run as fast as the rope between his legs allowed,
stumbled more than once because fear took over. He wouldn't
make it, wouldn't find a hiding hole in this merciless
landscape before the SAS bastard had freed himself.
found something that looked like a mining shaft that
had long since been given up, crawled into it as good
as he could, hoped the other wouldn't see him. Slim
chance. Everything hurt, his shoulder felt worse than
before, the side he had landed on, a splitting pain
that slowly rose into his awareness. He clenched his
teeth and forced himself to breathe steady.
was strong, and angry. So angry, he didn't feel any
pain from the impact, couldn't see the bleeding fingers
and didn't give a shit about anything but getting out
of that hole as fast as he could. He climbed, pulled,
pushed, and soon, his head emerged from the hole. Nothing.
Of course not. The fucker had tried to escape.
get you." Dan hissed, grabbed rifles and water
bottle, found the other's footprints immediately. Dripping
wet himself, he followed some of the steps while scanning
the landscape. Where the hell could the fucker be? Easy.
He smirked, started to run, saw the heavy boot prints
that had disturbed the ground, followed it to a rock
formation, close by. It was all so obvious, he had to
saw the shadow of the man fall over the tunnel. If he
had had any chance. Any chance at all, he'd use it.
He couldn't even kill himself, no poison, no gun, no
way to die in this rotten place. It was cool in here,
cool and dark, his skin felt raw, half cooked, and there
was absolutely nothing he could do. He'd given it his
best shot, and the game was over.
not from the hand of a fucking enemy. He thought of
mutilation, of a gun in his mouth, could almost taste
the metal. The SAS guy would do it, this time. He shook
his head and rested his forehead on the dusty ground,
resting for the moment.
be over with this, he thought. Let it just end. He didn't
doubt the bastard would come and get him, or point a
rifle down and shoot him in the hole like a rabbit.
He was fucked, completely and utterly, and all he did
was fight off the sense of defeat.
cunt!" Dan shouted, rifle aiming at the hole where
the boot prints ended. "Get your fucking arse out
of there or I come and get you."
crawled back out. Every movement agony. The only good
thing was it would end soon, now. He remained on the
ground, didn't have the strength to move. He awaited
the shot, the boot, the knife. And tried to not be scared
Russian cunt." Dan repeated quietly, an odd sense
of calm, the most dangerous stillness before the tidal
waves of anger would break lose. The rifle was directly
aimed at the captive. Still, Dan did nothing, watched
the enemy crawl on his knees. That's where the bastard
belonged. Death was too good for the Russian.
tricked me thrice." Dan's brows raised, the first
change of expression, he started to walk towards the
man on the ground, stopped right in front of him. "Get
looked at the dusty boots and expected one to kick him
in the face. Nothing he could do about it. He might
as well die on his feet. Unless the SAS guy meant for
him to get up only so he could kick him down again.
There was no dignity in dying, he thought, but he could
look him in the face. Then again, he didn't want that
bastard to be the last thing he'd ever see.
started to move, rolled onto his side, got one foot
on the ground, then pushed himself up, face twitching
with the pain. He swayed on his feet, felt dizzy, nauseous,
badly sunburnt. Vadim looked into the dark eyes, steadied
his gaze on them. Tried to show no fear. One last act
of 'fuck you', really.
waited with sickening patience, until the Russian finally
stood on his own feet. Barely an arm's length away,
but the distance got shorter when he took another step.
should have killed you." He shoved the rifle into
the bastard's guts, the movement deliberately slowed
should have cut your fucking ears off." Another
push, this time faster, somewhat higher.
should have stuffed them down your throat to stop you
screaming while I cut your fucking nose off." Again,
faster, then once, twice, thrice sharp and vicious stabs.
"But it's never too late to start!" The rifle
was flung into the sand, a fist followed, a boot, knee,
fists again; punching, kicking viciously, beating the
shit out of the body, intend on destroying that arsehole.
tensed against the onslaught, tried to at least stay
on his feet, but the pain just took him, and he fell
again, couldn't catch himself, didn't have the strength,
just went to his knees again and onto his front, trying
to take the worst blows with his muscles, but felt his
strength lacking, deserted. He wasn't Spetsnaz, all
he was, was flesh, pain, agony, fear and pain, and the
same again. And over again. Just hoping it would end,
at some point. Like a worm in the dust, feeling blood
run from his face. He didn't have the strength nor the
air to do much more than grunt, panting, lips open,
kissing the fucking dirt.
the punches and kicks stopped. Dan breathed hard, a
rattling sound hissing through burning lungs. It was
hard work to beat a man, as tough as the Russian, to
Dan reached down, arms underneath the chest, grabbed
sand and dirt, then bleeding flesh, pulled the heavy
body upwards. He was getting splattered with the other's
blood, but didn't care.
didn't want to be that close, every square millimetre
of his body hurt, he thought about internal bleeding,
hoped it would happen soon, he had heard it didn't hurt
much to bleed to death.
fucking way, Russkie." Dan pulled until the body
was upright, leaning against him, one arm steadying
the bastard. Violent mockery of an embrace. "You
won't die yet. Fuck you, Russkie, I'm not done with
you yet. You cunt deserve worse."
running down Vadim's nose, his chin, somewhere on his
scalp, he smelled the blood and the dust and the heat.
He managed to scream with pain, his shoulder felt hot
and distorted, the shoulder he had fallen on, strength
gone, he was strangling himself, hoped that the burning
sensation at his throat would stop, heard the threat,
and wanted to disbelieve it, but the stories he'd heard
about the SAS, and their private little war.
believe it. Think. He's killing you, and he'll do it
he could offer, nothing he could bargain with, that
man was about to kill him, really meant it. And all
that because of what he'd done.
grabbed the rifle, started to drag the body back to
the water hole, didn't give a shit if the other was
passing out or not, just handled the man as if he owned
the mass of bloodied flesh, muscles and bones.
remained limp, hoped he'd pass out from lack of oxygen,
he was halfway there, everything danced around him,
a hectic flickering that might be anything, probably
was his eyelids.
because of the rape. That kind of hatred could only
have one single reason. The one mistake.
Vadim breathed. Had no idea which language it was. "I
do whatever. Don't. Just
do what I did
and we're even. Whatever. Just stop
It didn't terrify him. The thought felt rational. And
Vadim remembered the man had been hard when the whole
fucking torture started. He knew the feeling. Beating
another into submission made him feel that. He had done
it in the barracks, and assumed it was the same everywhere
else in the world.
could survive that. He couldn't survive what the SAS
guy was doing right now. It might cool the anger. Repay
in kind. It was only fair. Vadim slumped to the ground,
smelled the water close.
words. Words that blinded Dan in rage; blazing terror
of a Nothing he had fought so hard to forget. Words
that brought alive a beast he'd never encountered before.
Blood-red haze descended upon his senses and he snarled,
out of his mind. "What?" Voice harder, sharper,
staccato of words; disgusting words again. Reminders.
the fuck did you say?" Started to shout, the voice
of a man who had learned to give orders, let alone follow
them. Follow his own, calling for mindless revenge.
fucking cunt!" Kicked against the body on the ground,
aimed at the kidneys. "I'm not like you, fucking
fag, shit stabbing bastard, goddamned motherfucking
down, knife was in his hand, in front of the Russian's
eyes, before Vadim could take another breath. Cut the
rope around the throat, forced the arms into the front.
They were useless by now, knew the enemy couldn't move
them, the pain of trying would kill him first.
worst thing was to be free, even just for a moment,
and nothing Vadim could do. His shoulders were absolute
agony, one arm just fell on the ground, like dead meat,
the other - was then pulled, fuck, that hurt. He could
breathe, suddenly. Wrong thought. Wrong offer. Had been
worth a try. Fuck.
used fast, efficient movements to tie the bound arms
in front to the thick beam that held the goat bladder
water bucket. Snarling with anger, unintelligible words
of rage. "Bastard!"
up, Vadim brought his legs together, to protect himself
from the kicks, if anything, felt a sweaty hand between
his shoulder blades, one knee in the small of his back,
and thought for a strange moment he'd been wrong.
not like you!" Dan shouted.
blade sank deeply into the flesh of the shoulders. The
blade of the knife cooled - Vadim felt the blood run
before he felt the pain, and it was hot and cool at
the same time.
worst thing was, this could indeed take a long time,
thought Vadim, then the pain hit home, and it wasn't
just a superficial cut - that one went deep. The pain
was glaring, bright, a horrible thing inside him, a
caged monster. He screamed, voice and throat raw.
breathing came ragged, short-sharp bursts of air that
never reached his mind, burning deep in his lungs. "You're
a cunt and the world will know it."
in those words, precision in the cutting. The knife
lifted, then blade touched skin again, this time moving
from dry heat into thick blood. Another line, amidst
the screams, cutting the next part of the first letter
cut, slowly, deliberately, concentrated on nothing but
skin beneath the blade, under his knee, against his
hand. Blood mingling with sweat and sand, while he murmured
quiet words now and then. A flick of a blade, another
move, and yet another line. Cyrillic was oddly suited
to cutting words into human flesh.
one way to deal with that pain. Screaming. Screaming
because it was tearing him apart inside, Vadim could
feel the blade go deep, he could feel the fire, his
own blood run over his back, pool in the hollow curve
of his spine. The terror was complete.
scream turned into sobbing. Ages since Vadim had cried
like that, with pain and fear. Basic training. Spetsnaz
belt, too far down, and Dan's knife cut through that
as well. Leather, flesh, no matter. Didn't have to cut
off the trousers, unlike
heat, blood, pain and power.
gave, slipped out of holes, when Dan pulled hard on
the garment. Exposing that arse he had stared at earlier,
and hating the other even more for it. Hated the stare,
the heat, the goddamned body, the Nothing.
the last letter, moved across the small of the back,
towards the muscled flesh, noticed the fine down of
blond hair and the way the muscles twitched, the perfection
of smooth lines. The lack of any softness on that body,
no curves, only hard, sharp angles and hardened planes.
hand moved downwards through slippery blood, to the
small of the back, red-coated fingers pressing down
into the muscled flesh. Staring. Forcing. Knife moved
slower. Minute-deliberate cuts.
mind was spinning, felt like it was breaking, glass,
stone, no more. He tried to move, all he could do was
squirm, then a moment's pause. His ass tensed, his legs
tensed, he knew the knife was poised to
go there, the blade there would finally kill
him. After what would be the worst pain of his life.
was panting so hard he was dizzy with oxygen, completely
exhausted, mind frozen in terror. The SAS guy would
fuck him with a knife.
a way to go.
shook his head, hit his forehead on a rock, felt more
blood, wasn't sure where all this was coming from. Quivering
mass of terror.
Dan murmured, knife blade slipping further down, poised
me", Vadim whispered. Russian. He had no thought
left in English. "Kill me
this. You SAS, not ... bandit.
I have family." He felt the tears run down his
face, thought of Katya, the kids, fragile, so fragile
little heads and faces. He tried to stop the tears,
hoped the bastard didn't notice that he cried like a
mind registered one word. Soldier.
me. More words.
stilled. Knife poised. Stared at his own hand pressing
down on the smooth flesh. It shook, hadn't noticed before.
Shook violently, from sounds and movements that felt
like white noise amongst the word that kept echoing
through his empty mind, bolted down with insanity and
Queen and Country.
God." Whispered. Where was the rage? 'Kill him.
Kill the liar. Kill him.'
lie." Dan's eyes transfixed on poised knife, couldn't
tear them away from the carnage. Trail of blood, fascinating
to watch it move slowly, just as deliberately as his
blade, move towards the cleft and trickle sluggishly
down and vanish.
between his ass cheeks. Blood. Running down like the
kiss of death. Vadim screamed again, this time in terror,
not pain, felt how his mind slowly moved away from the
broken mess that was his body, his pride, his honour,
can't have a family." Dan's voice without inflexion
nor emotion. Lie, what a lie. Screaming silence inside,
inferno of 'soldier, soldier, professional soldier'
a fag." You, not 'Russkie', nor 'bastard',
was something bordering calm. It would still happen.
Vadim felt filthy because he'd told the enemy about
Katya. His family. His little dream out there in Moscow.
A life he couldn't lead. Had failed to lead. "Give
a bullet. I
will even pull the
not like this. Give me a clean
death." How other spetsnaz would laugh at that
idea. Clean death. It was still splattering his brains
If only I could have been
that other man. More
like Sasha. Vadim sobbed again, bit into his shoulder
to suppress it. "For my
family. She'll want
how I died."
a faggot." Repeated, Dan shook his head, couldn't
be. Impossible. "You're a liar."
had already stopped to matter. Family? No consequence,
just that word, that one word that was reverberating
in every corner of his being. Soldier.
was torturing a man not information, duty, nor reasons.
But for ...
failed. Just the one. Soldier.
Dan murmured. Oh fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. War crimes. Unit.
Regimental pride. No. Just no. He'd become as bad as
the other, stooped to the bastard's level.
began to dry on Dan's fingers. It kept oozing, just
like that thought, the memory, this knowledge. Noticed
his body at last, aware of the unbearable. Hardness
where it couldn't nor shouldn't be.
hand trembled, couldn't let the enemy see this weakness.
Lowered the knife, wiped it to clean the bloodied blade,
before fumbling with unsteady hands, slipping it back
into its sheath.
easy to make things undone, just clean the blade and
sheath the knife. No. Not easy at all.
didn't say another word, left the man on the ground,
couldn't bear to look at the dying, bleeding mess and
went to pull up water from the well. Not a word. Couldn't
speak, unbearable that voice of his. It wanted to scream
'Torturer!' at him, and 'Criminal!' 'Tribunal and Dismissal!'
disgrace for the unit and the British Forces.
Vadim, it had stopped. The SAS guy was going to get
the pistol. A wave of relief flooded through him. He
had thought about dying, and always believed it would
be quick, a bullet to the head. Like a light switched
off. A sharp pain, over. It would be like that, in just
a minute. Maybe he gave him a gun, maybe would help
him hold it in his hand. He might be able to squeeze
the trigger. Tension left him again. At least it was
over. Nothing or nobody to thank for, maybe Katya. Her
memory. The kids. The pension would be hard, it was
already pretty tight with his normal salary. But she
was strong and tough, she would find a way. He only
regretted that he had made it so much harder. And that
just after Sasha, she would lose him, too. Two blows.
So close together.
lay on the ground, felt the sun burn down. Wondering
idly why he had hated this country so much. It provided
air to breathe, and blue sky, and ground on which to
lie. It wasn't so bad.
came back with the water. Vadim glanced up as the boots
scrunched close, saw the dusty leather, the thick shit-kicker
soles. Squinting his eyes to look at the man, who avoided
to meet his eyes.
looking, just not looking, thought Dan. Soldier. It's
you who are the liar.
beautiful brown eyes, thought Vadim. Kindness. Now they
weren't enemies. Vadim was so grateful he almost cried
again. It was so simple to be happy, finally at peace.
Just hand over your life, and accept death. He felt
he had realized something impossibly true and profound,
something he needed to share, and he looked at the man
and smiled. It wasn't about forgiving or asking forgiveness,
it was about the simple kindness to no longer hurt.
tipped the open water bottle towards the Russian's bleeding
touch at Vadim's lips seemed strange, unexpected. He
shook his head. "No. It's alright. It's all good
didn't understand the ramblings, didn't matter. Glanced
down at what he had tried to avoid seeing at all costs,
noticed that strange look on the bruised and bleeding
face. A smile? Oh fuck.
bottle pushed against the lips again, but no reaction.
Reluctantly slipping his hand beneath the head, Dan
lifted enough to force bottle and water between the
lips. He'd seen it before, half-unconsciousness and
delirium. They'd drink eventually, reflexes and instinct
to survive were stronger. Greed to live. He'd read it
somewhere at some stage or maybe he was only imagining
waited until sufficient water was swallowed by reflex,
then grabbed the goat skin bucket, poured the cool liquid
across the back. Odd. How the sand and dust was forming
intricate patterns when mingling with the blood. Shit,
no bandages. Grabbed his own rag that shielded against
the heat and sand and unwound it, shaking out the dirt.
Would have to do - would have to live.
The word kept creeping up on him, gagging his senses
in a stranglehold of guilt.
Not torturer. Wages paid by the crown, tax payers' money.
All that shit.
folded inside out, covering the back of the head to
shield from the sun. Dan could see clearly the word
he had carved into the flesh.
it was hidden beneath the fabric and away from his gaze
when he turned, fumbling for cigarettes and matches,
staring across the mountains, his back to the enemy
he had slain.
Fag between his lips, match came to light with a hiss,
pulling a drag deeply into his lungs. Soldier.
Russian had to live.
Wet. Shade. Water. Of all things, Vadim missed the water
most. He just lay on the ground, his whole body one
throbbing mess beyond pain, fire, pressure, swelling.
It didn't matter. He could rest now. Sleep. He moved
his head to find an area on which his head could rest
that didn't hurt, to the side of his forehead. Felt
water and blood run down his sides, pooling around him.
But no more. He would go to sleep now, and not wake
up again, most likely. That was alright. That was probably
the best way to die. He closed his eyes, and relaxed,
relaxed all the tensed, torn, bruised muscles, let his
breath flow freely, and sunk back into darkness.
was a memory, or a dream. He smelled water, disinfectant,
remembered being cold and wet and glowing with exertion,
rubbing his arms to get warm again after the training.
He was dry by the time it was his turn to head into
the masseur's office, apart from his hair, which needed
cutting. Then, warm hands on his body that took the
cold and the tension away, a low voice that told him
didn't speak much, Vadim was too busy soaking up the
feeling of being thoroughly pampered, of somebody knowing
exactly where he needed that firm touch. Sometimes with
a little pain, when he was too tensed to let go. When
he had been defeated again, or couldn't get what he
hands started at his toes and ended with his head, and
the smell of oil and leather enveloped him. A very special
warmth. Often, he grew hard. The masseur pretended not
to notice. Vadim thought maybe it happened to the other
boys as well.
day, those hands spent much more time on his ass, thumbs
working on the place between them, and then sunk into
his body. Vadim hardly dared to breathe while the fingers
sent shivers through him, slow, and then faster, and
the shudders blended into one, and he bucked against
the cushioning until he came.
was mortified and mellow at the same time, and the masseur
turned away from him as he told him he was finished.
He could hardly focus on the training, listened up every
time somebody mentioned the masseur's name, but nobody
seemed suspicious. Vadim couldn't await the next time,
and the man did this again.
they do, Vadim, never believe what you feel makes you
less able to win. It's simply not true. Just a whisper
against his ear, and in that moment Vadim understood
what he felt.
shared a secret, in this place where none of the boys
managed to keep a secret for long, where everything
was poked and prodded and forbidden, and Vadim felt
guilty and excited and even thought he was in love.
stood in the waning heat, blowing the cigarette smoke
in front of him, blurring the endless landscape of mountains,
rocks and desert. Patches of dried grass, shrubs and
the occasional dead tree. His back away from the other,
he knew the man had to live. He didn't give a shit about
the Russkie's life, but he gave a great deal about what
his death would mean, what he had done. If the Russian
died, he'd be a murderer, not a killer.
long accepted that killing was his job, 'defence' they
said, but when it came down to it, the SAS training
had made him into a killer. Fine. That's what he did.
For Queen and Country and the Glory of the British Special
Airborne Services. He had proven to be tougher than
the Royal Marines Commando troops, fiercer than any
infantryman and more resilient than anyone else in the
techniques, survival on insects, snails and roots, the
whole fucking hog and all the trimmings. 'Interrogation',
not torture; torture for no other reason than revenge.
he murmured with disgust, taking a last dreg of the
fag, flicking the butt behind him. "No. The bastard
has to live."
You're a soldier, Dan. You're the best.
for a second thinking that far as to what the hell he'd
do with his enemy even if the man survived, but he'd
decide on that later. Right now it didn't look too good,
he'd been bloody thorough. He knew the power behind
his boots and fists, and the knife? Flesh cut open like
a ripe tomato. Dan wondered how many bones he'd broken.
Nose, clearly; ribs, surely.
was in for the long haul. Best organise something to
eat and a disguise for the Russian. The fucker would
be minced meat with extra curry flavour if an Afghani
passed the water hole and realised who the messed-up
stomach was growling, he'd long emptied the packet of
nuts. Water more important than anything, but he needed
shade for the Russkie, shoot a goat and get a fire going.
He took a deep breath, then turned around towards the
man on the ground. First things first. If the bastard
had any chance to survive, he'd better make it the best
some of the dried grass and patches of moss and yellowed
undergrowth, Dan started to lay out an area near the
water hole, large enough for the Russkie to lie on,
providing some form of cushioned protection for no doubt
broken ribs and bruised flesh.
in ever increasing circles, Dan found enough larger
pieces of wood to construct a makeshift shelter over
the natural overhang of rock that provided protection
for the water hole. Only one piece of fabric that would
do: his own parka. Couldn't use the Russian's uniform
tunic, too dangerous in case Afghanis passed during
the day, best roll it up and use it as further cushioning.
Hiding the Dragunov rifle, making sure it was out of
reach and out of sight, he wondered about security.
No way he'd leave the Russkie unbound, even in this
stage, but the need for a man more dead than alive to
be trussed up as he was right now? Bullshit.
knelt down beside the other, reached for the waistband
of the trousers and pulled them further up over the
exposed arse. Didn't look, didn't want to see, but unable
not to notice with utter clarity how the rag had been
soaked with blood already. "You'd better be tough,
Russkie, or you haven't got a fucking chance in hell
and I won't let you fuck off and die." Murmured,
since the man was unconscious.
checking over the rope, untying it from the beam, but
not yet undoing the wrists nor the ankles. He was about
to try and lift the limp body, when his eyes fell on
Muttered, Dan hadn't noticed the strange angle before.
realised he was raised up, he could feel part of his
body leave the ground, then something constricted him,
like somebody standing on him, weight and pressure,
and then he was awake as the pain in his shoulder became
unspeakable. There was a sickening sound, a feeling
like something ripped his arm clean off and took the
whole shoulder up to the sternum with it.
screamed again, surprise and pain together much worse
than just the pain, then dropped to the ground again,
no, was let down. He panted, fighting the pain and the
fear that returned with the pain. Staring at the SAS
soldier, wondering what next.
slowly, it dawned on him his shoulder had been dislocated.
That explained the pain there. And the guy had put it
back into its socket. He lay there and didn't dare to
move, felt nauseous and hungry and sweaty and battled
the pain. No gun. No knife. The man tried to help? Why?
Vadim looked at the enemy, tried to guess, then felt
the darkness well up again. Last thought was somehow
unpleasant, but it slipped from his mind.
caught the brief inquisitive look, remembered how the
other's eyes had been pale like a block of ice, see-through
transparency against the blue of a winter sky. They
were darker now, and he couldn't understand for all
the money in the world why the fuck he remembered the
fucker's eyes so vividly. Never mind.
man was slipping away, made the whole lot easier, and
he lifted the limp, heavy body with a groan, managed
to get it over to the makeshift resting place and lowered
him down. Leaving the rope around the ankles the way
they were, but he undid the boot laces and pulled them
off, wouldn't do to have the Russkie survive only to
have his feet rot away, unable to get him to ... yeah,
where to? Time would tell. The ropes somewhat loose
now, he didn't figure the man was up to running away,
thus re-bound the wrists as well, leaving a modicum
of movement. The shoulder would hurt like fuck, but
that would be nothing compared to the broken bones and
the cut-open flesh.
up, securing his parka as windbreak and shelter, it
would keep warmth in from the fire he was about to make.
It would have to be small, but enough driftwood to keep
them going for the time they'd have to stay. Cut short
only by the man's death, if it happened. The option
remained bloody likely.
would get dark and cold soon, time to find something
to eat and Dan walked off, his own rifle under the arm
to find and shoot a goat or anything else that provided
Vadim awoke the next time, it was from fire. The warmth
that was different from the feverish heat that possessed
his body. The smell of something edible. The fireplace
lay still, noticed his hands and feet were bound, but
had no strength beyond working that out. Saw how the
SAS guy's skin turned red in the firelight. Dark eyes
and hair. The thought grew into a suspicion. He tried
to open his lips, felt they were dry, and tried to clear
his throat. It took a while, he just didn't have much
was turning over the piece of goat meat that was roasting
on the fire, concentrating on the flames, not the man.
He'd cleaned the back again, poured some water down
the other's throat while he was out, careful to use
reflexes and not choke him, then washed out the bloodied
rag and covered the back again. Every time he lifted
the cloth, 'pizda' was staring at him.
Vadim's original question was longer, something about
Mujahideen, and bounty, but it was too much. Not that
he expected an answer. He might be back in the dark
place before the SAS guy answered. If he did.
frowned. What else did the fucker want? Nursing, food,
water and now conversation? He had even placed the Russian's
uniform shirt and tunic back over him to ward off the
cold - inside out and hiding the insignia with dog tags
tucked beneath the throat, and he'd be fucked if he
knew what he himself was going to use at night. He was
unharmed, though, and the enemy had nothing left to
fight. The cold would kill the bastard this time, and
that just wouldn't do.
didn't react at the question, tested a strip of the
meat instead, tore it off when it was sufficiently cooked
and stuffed it into his mouth before turning while chewing,
walking over to the Russian. He crouched beside the
head and wordlessly offered a small strip of meat, pushing
it against the lips.
watched, smelled the meat, and yes, that meant he was
supposed to live. Which was odd. The bounty counted
for his head, he knew there were bounties around on
any Russian soldier. Officers were quite valuable. But
he also knew that it didn't matter whether the head
was still attached. Maybe some kind of hostage situation.
wished he'd be high-ranking enough that the KGB would
actually do things to get him out. Maybe they even would.
But they wouldn't like the fact that he had been interrogated.
He opened his lips and took the hot meat, manoeuvred
it between his molars and very slowly chewed. His jaw
ached like he had been chewing steel for several hours.
Looked up at the man, expected, deep down in his guts,
more pain. He had looked at him with a mixture of lust
and dark pleasure, then respect, then fear. It all mixed
now. He realized why he had chosen this one in that
night in Kabul. Drunk as he had been. Adrenaline-crazed
to boot. Bored and vicious. He swallowed the meat, felt
how even that hurt.
am from Moscow." If
he was a hostage, there was one duty, and that was to
stay alive. He had tried to escape, often enough, he
reckoned. Now it was about working within the confined
space. And that meant to get into the head of his captor.
shrugged, just tore off another strip of meat for himself,
then for the Russian. Spoke at last. "I know who
you are but I don't give a shit." Now, strangely
relaxed, his voice fell back into the smoothed-down
somewhat guttural accent of the Scottish Highlands.
A voice that was dark, warm even. He'd caught many girls
with it in his time. That, and his smart-ass grin, the
self-assertiveness and that killer-body.
ever make the mistake to think I give a flying fuck
about your life and who you are." Pushed the meat
against the lips again. "But you'll live."
Took the last bit of meat and chewed on it before reaching
for the water bottle on his belt.
carefully chewed. It was hard and required a lot of
concentration to not chew on his tongue. Took forever
before he managed to swallow. Listened to the strange
intonation, different from what he had been taught,
and couldn't place the man.
No more mistakes", he murmured, half closed his
eyes because the lids were too heavy. "If
you go into the village. They often have food
hidden away. Check for
store stuff in all
of places. Don't touch the water."
rested from that again, felt the chill of the night.
"I think I will be
worse in a bit."
He could feel heat, and sweat, and knew his body was
gearing up to fight infection and blood loss. That was
how it was. "Her name's Katya. Daughter's Anoushka.
Son's Nikol'." Nikolai. Anya, and Katarina.
Of course. Expected and dreaded, but if anything, that
man would pull through. Dan listened to the ramblings,
even though he didn't want to. Not much else to do,
face to face with another man. Whatever those names
meant, they meant nothing to Dan. Daughter, son, wife,
whatever. How could he? How could that fucker anyway?
Then why had he done what he did and
go there. There be dragons, but there should be Nothing.
put the water bottle to Vadim's lips and let some of
it pour into the mouth, waiting for him to swallow.
again. Vadim knew he had to, and knew it was better,
the more it improved his chances, but it was hard work,
and he'd rather just drift away.
in the back pocket of his webbing belt, Dan pulled out
a small tub with white pills. Penicillin. His last ones.
He was taking his chances. "Take that." Pushing
a couple between the other's lips, while noting what
he had said about the villages. Tomorrow, not now. Now
he was starting to freeze.
woke up a bit more, mistrustful, then remembered it
didn't make any difference. He opened his lips and took
the pills, swallowed them dry, which took even more
effort. Half formed thoughts in his mind, one clouding
the other. Spetsnaz. SAS. Family. He started to shiver,
felt every sore muscle in his body protest. Opened his
eyes again, didn't want to slip away, now that he had
a small hope, he had something to lose.
tried to move his hand, of course the left one, to touch
the other man's arm, squeeze it, but was too weak to
lift the hand much and there was still the rope.
saw an abortive movement in the other's hand, but took
no further notice. Trickled more water between the lips
to help wash the pills down, and the more water the
man swallowed, the better the chances. Simple equation
and even simpler reasons why.
or I will be a murderer.
the Russkie rapidly descend into unconsciousness, Dan
turned to stoke the fire. Despite the shelter and the
small source of heat, it was beginning to freeze as
it always did in these goddamned mountains. Peering
outside and into the sky, he wondered when he had stopped
being amazed at the vastness of the night sky in this
country, and the incredible clarity of the stars. Perhaps
he had forgotten about it when the killing started,
the fighting and scheming, or maybe since that night
matter. The stars would remain and he was nothing but
a human who had to eat. Seating himself down to roast
another bit of meat, he had to keep going or the goat
would be off come the heat of the following day.
hours later and as much food down his neck as he could
manage, Dan kindled the fire again and set up meat in
a circle around the flames, positioned on spikes to
keep it roasting for the following day. Tired and exhausted,
he was freezing cold and glanced over at shelter, man
and coverings. Damn.
drew in a deep breath, watched it exhale in curling
steam into the crystal coldness of the night and shrugged.
Couldn't be helped. Moved over to the Russian, lay himself
down on the patch of padding. If he kept his guard and
never turned his back, the other shouldn't pose a danger
in his condition.
closer, as close as he could and draped the tunics and
every scrap of fabric he could find over both of them.
Fuck. How bloody ironic. Mortal enemies sharing body
heat. He'd laugh if he could find it funny.
fell asleep within a heartbeat.
woke up because he was burning, felt like somebody poured
fire down his throat. Fitful sleep. He felt worse than
before, headache was back, sunburn in all the places
that weren't black and blue.
wanted to beg for water, then noticed something close.
Somebody. He didn't feel the cold, he was sweating,
but it was feverish heat and nothing cooled, not the
night, not the sweat.
the man up close, eyes closed, face relaxed, no hatred,
no fear, no anger, no nothing. Just a man asleep. He
couldn't help noticing the man was pretty. No, wrong
word. Stunning. He tried to laugh, but didn't have the
strength. Stunning alright. Smashing, even.
peered at him sideways. Close, brushing him, preserving
heat. He could study him all he wanted. And how stupid
to even notice how attractive the other was. You thrive
on pain, he thought. Vadim, you are insane. Look what
he understood. He understood why, and he knew that he
himself wouldn't have shown any of what the other had.
No mercy. The pain and weakness raging in his body.
looked at the other, ignored the thirst, tried to move
his left hand. Worked. All five fingers. That was a
movement was all that was needed to enter Dan's sleep,
alerting his mind. He'd not still be alive if he hadn't
got an ever vigilant sleep. Dan's eyes opened, his face
turned from one second relaxed to the next awake. He
said nothing, his mind still clouded with sleep. Dark
brown eyes face to face with pale ice blue. There they
were again. He'd laugh once more that he noticed, but
it still wasn't funny.
face in front of his was bruised in grotesque ways,
one eye almost swollen shut, the other looking straight
at him. Black and blue, dried red of blood and grime
brows raised, but he did not move.
reflexes, Vadim thought. Instincts. He just barely managed
to shake his head. Being so close without hitting or
kicking him must be bad for the SAS guy. Bad feelings.
Bad memory. He tried to moisten his lips, wasn't sure
what he would say, or could say without losing the remainder
of the other man's good will.
woke up", Vadim said. "It's alright."
was. Vadim had got used to the pain. He'd live. What
for - he didn't care right now. I really like your eyes,
he thought. Now, that would kill him. But he did. Irony.
That he noticed these things after he'd had that body,
noticed eyes and hair and that long, thin nose that
looked like that man had gotten through basic training
without breaking it. "I owe you", he murmured.
owe you? Dan's brows rose even higher. "You're
talking bullshit." His own voice had the thickness
of someone who'd just woken from a deep sleep. It's
alright? Just as ridiculous, but it would do. "Water?"
communication when he didn't want to talk at all. Not
with this one, it made the Russkie too human instead
of a mass of muscle, skin, bones and flesh.
nodded. "Yes. Water." Difficult to keep the
eye open. So many things to ask. Who are you? Where
are you from? The other would never give up that advantage,
if only psychological. No, every advantage. He couldn't
care right now. He glanced up.
reached behind himself for the water bottle and moved
to sit on his hips. Unscrewing the top he took a swig
himself before holding it once again to the other's
eh?" Vadim grinned a little. Milky Way. Stars,
stars, stars. "Moscow, no stars."
told you before," Dan frowned, "I don't give
a shit who you are, where you're from, who your family
is, is you even have one, what fucking stars are in
whatever motherfucking country and least of all who
you've fucked with or not." Dan had no idea where
the last bit had come from, and didn't notice it either.
drank, heard the tirade, acknowledged it. He tried to
get as much water down as he could, and the thirst began
to grow a little less bad. Still not great, but he didn't
want to have to piss. Certainly not. He was about to
say something more, something like an apology for keeping
him awake, then thought it didn't really matter. Relaxing
again, feeling the sweat bead on his body. Lying awake,
feeling the fever rage inside.
was cold, tired, but at least not hungry. "You'll
live, but that's it, and if you don't shut the fuck
up that's getting less likely by the minute." Taking
the bottle of water away.
understand." Vadim felt as if backhanded, the man
slipped away like a fish in a pond. It was important
that the SAS guy saw him as more than just an enemy.
An enemy he kept alive, but there had to be more, and
that was work, but Vadim had to do it. It would improve
his chances of survival and maybe even escape.
nodded, had an idea that the Russkie did anything but
understand, but didn't matter right now. He put the
top onto the bottle after a swig for himself and lay
back down, shifting close to the sweating body. He'd
feel uncomfortable if he didn't know about necessity
and if he hadn't slept arse to arse or chest to chest
with gangs of squaddies before. Die of cold or push
your body into another man's and have a groin rubbing
against your back and be snugly warm. No contest.
An order, not a request.
slept until dawn broke, fairly undisturbed, as if his
subconscious had adjusted to the shifting and tiny movements
of the feverish man beside him. It was expected. Pouring
more water into the Russian the moment Dan woke, he
refilled the bottle after taking a piss nearby, his
back to the other.
on the cuts, another wash of Vadim's back with cold
water and then some more of the meat to chew. Small
bites, he almost fed the man like a child, but everything
Dan did he did with obvious reluctance. Live, yes, wanted
him to live? In too many ways no.
left the Russian with the goat skin bucket full of water
beside him, and the tunic once more rolled up and stashed
beneath his head. Every bit that clearly marked him
as a Soviet soldier was hidden away. He'd have to take
the chances that no one would stop by and realise who
the sick man was, but he had to be off to scour the
mountains and climb down into the next village. A few
hours trek and he found what he was looking for. Primitive
huts burnt down, deserted and laden with the rotten
stench of animal corpses. At least the humans seemed
to have been buried. Digging inside the huts, he soon
found what he was looking for, burdening himself with
every tin he could find, dried fruits, some dried meat
and a wooden tub of what seemed to be animal fat.
in the mountain, Vadim was waiting, drifting in and
out of sleep. Realising he was alone, and thirsty, he
managed his one triumph in that day. Drink from the
bucket with his own strength, nearly toppling it three
or four times, his back a bushfire of pain as he collapsed,
nearly sobbing with frustration. Couldn't move.
get away. Ate two bites of meat he had found close enough
to reach for and eat. Took forever. Covered his head
as good as he could, the sun hated his fair skin, people
like him should stay wrapped up to the tips of their
nose and then some.
stared at the ground, tried counting to see how bad
it was, lost track of his numbers, drifted off again,
woke, and the shadows were long and deep, and he forced
himself to drink more.
found his way back to the water hole with experienced
ease, orienting himself at the sun and the rock formations,
grabbing fire wood on the way and by the approaching
evening, with an hour's time to spare before darkness,
arriving back at the makeshift camp with his burden.
everything down beside the now burnt-out fire, he rekindled
it first, using some carefully stashed embers, before
walking over to look down at the man. Wordlessly studying
the sweat gleaming side of the face and neck, thickly
muscled arms and then the expanse of back, hidden beneath
the rag that protected the open wounds.
didn't know if he felt hatred anymore. It was more the
sensation of a most disturbing lack of anything.
Vadim awoke next time, the SAS soldier was standing
there, watching him like a dying animal. He looked up,
answered that gaze. Good you're back, he thought, but
knew saying it wasn't welcome. The other man didn't
talk. Not to him, anyway. "I'm
question. What was the man, this Spetsnaz soldier? Dan
shrugged, "I guess." Did it matter? He didn't
want it to matter. The Russian was his responsibility
for now and that was bad enough.
the surroundings, Dan saw the bucket had been drunk
from, the bits of meat were gone. Good. Reaching into
his pocket he got a handful of dried fruits, soft bits
of sweetness, and placed them into the Russian's left
hand. Understood that the right would be useless. He
had a fair idea from experience of the pain and complications
of dislocated shoulder and broken ribs.
turned away again, to sort the foodstuffs he had found,
before refilling the water bottle and opening one of
the tins. Spam. This time Dan did laugh. A private joke
that tickled his humour from a distance and time faraway.
Shaking his head while letting out that laughter, belly
deep although short, and sounding as relaxed as if he
were down the pub with his mates.
looked up at the laughter. Surprising, but the other
man wasn't as dour as he made out. The sound felt good,
assured him he'd be alright, because this man had more
feelings than anger. He wanted to ask what was funny
about it, then had the feeling that that question would
stop the laughter and all humour immediately.
got some of the meat out with his knife and cut it into
small pieces. Grabbing the tub with animal fat he knelt
down beside the Russian once more, placed the tin with
the cut-up spam in front of his hand. "It's good
together with the fruit."
glanced at the meat. Protein. Good idea.
moved again, and halted the instant the man lifted the
rag to study the wounds. Vadim's shoulder blades moved
as he felt tension again, and he forced muscles to move
that were cut. Vadim pressed his forehead into the ground
and tried not to think, not to feel. He had no idea
how bad it was, only that it felt very, very bad. And
it scared him. Not knowing.
eyes narrowed at the angry red lines that spoke in Cyrillic
words, drawn with dried blood. Cunt. Yes, Dan
knew. All too well. "Eat now, it'll hurt later."
Uncovering the tub, eyeing one of the worst bruises
over the ribs, slowly pushing into it to check if he
could feel any bones.
pain was immense. Another touch that hurt. It was probably
gentle, but it caused agony, Vadim could feel his own
ribs move in ways they shouldn't. That was why breathing
hurt. He had wondered what the noise had been. That
was them breaking.
yet. Pain. Touch. Something got confused in his mind,
something about that man touching him. When Vadim dared
to breathe again, he looked at the other. Wanted to
be sarcastic, congratulate him on reducing him to this
in only a few hours. Couldn't dredge up the feeling
for it. Punishment for what he had done? Then it was
punishment for both of them, and that didn't make any
wish I could offer you money." In Capitalism, everything
had a price, and nothing value.
for?" Dan didn't look up, watched his hand instead,
fingers slowly moving across the ribcage. Yes, broken,
damn, but he'd expected it. Knew his own strength, was
glad at least for the bones remaining in situ. Wondered
for a moment why he was glad, shook his head. At least
he wouldn't be a murderer if the Russkie survived.
tensed at the probing fingers, by instinct, hit his
forehead against the ground. Fuck. That hurt. Breathing
uncontrolled, panting again, he tried to slow it down.
Don't panic. It's just pain. It's cleaning up after
all the fun you've had.
told you, you live." Leaning over the other, Dan's
hands were moving more carefully up and down both sides
of the chest. Massive chest. Strong, hard, and lacking
even the slightest hint of softness. He moved his hands
up again, then down, lingering at the waist. Not thinking,
just checking. Once more up, slowly. Sensation of skin,
hot and smooth, over muscles. Slowed and marvelled,
not thinking, never thinking. Stayed, felt, remained
hands felt soothing now, calming, and Vadim was stupidly
grateful for that touch. Tried to relax. It wouldn't
help if he freaked every time that man checked his wounds.
There would be a lot of that.
suddenly caught himself, looked up, met the Russian's
eyes at last. "I don't need your money even if
you had any."
about needing, it's about wanting",
said Vadim, and paused, because those words ran too
deep. He didn't actually need to jump anybody, hadn't
needed to ambush this man. It was all about wanting.
Money, sex, combat. He closed his eyes, hoped the other
wouldn't notice. The kind of sentence that got people
hurt even more.
hands stopped, he tensed, but said nothing. Peering
at the cuts, he tilted his head to glance down towards
the trousers. He frowned. The last letter was reaching
below the waistband, he could already see the fabric
rubbing against the angry welts, it would make healing
broke your ribs." Matter-of-factly. "Your
legs, you feel pain?" His hand rested on the waistband
with its cut leather belt. Reluctant to push the trousers
back down, equally hesitating to let go.
didn't like being confused.
The spine is alright. I can feel and move my toes. Just
not the legs." Because that would mean moving a
muscle in my back, and that hurt really badly last time
I tried. Vadim snorted laughter. "I'll tell them
I fell off a mountain this time." Laughter again.
one is going to believe that story." Dryly. Dan's
words belied the carnage across the back. "No one."
shook his head. "Guess not. But I'll cut the doctor's
balls off if he writes anything else into my file."
At worst he could bribe the doctor.
snorted, then pushed the camo trousers down, half-way
over the arse. Stopped. Hand still poised on the fabric.
He exhaled one breath louder than he should, caught
himself staring for a moment. Holy shit. The sun was
low in the sky, hitting the smooth flesh at an angle
that made the blond hair shimmer golden on fairly pale
very moment he hated the Russian again.
bared again, this time, without the knife. Vadim paused,
listening, every sense alert. Resisting? No. He didn't
even know what to expect. Or maybe
didn't believe the other capable of doing that. Not
casual, not like this. Fat. Muscles. Cramps.
Curt, almost angry, Dan nodded at spam and fruit. "I
found a tub of fat, it'll do to stop your muscles from
cramping, but it'll hurt like a motherfucker."
He shrugged, turned away to tend to the fire once more,
leaving the back and arse open to the air.
reached out with his hand and began to eat the fruit.
Raisins, apples. They made him actually hungry, and
he didn't have to chew them much, just swallow. The
meat didn't offer much more resistance, and he concentrated
on getting some calories inside.
his own share of some fruits and more of the goat, Dan
chose the tougher foods, keeping the easy options for
the other. Caring? Bullshit, being realistic.
after food and water, he watched the Russian swallow
the last bits, before handing him the water bottle.
Figuring he'd manage on his own by now. If not? Tough
shit, he wasn't the bastard's nurse. Almost murdering
him, torturing the man for revenge didn't make him detest
the fucker any less. Straddling the Vadim's legs, he
lowered himself to sit on the thighs, reaching for the
tub and slapping some of the fat onto his hands.
on him. Vadim couldn't crane his neck - just didn't
want to risk it - not enough to look at him. His legs,
thighs, ass, everything tensed, partially to support
that weight. The weight. The fat was a good idea, good
solution, but he was sitting on top of him, and Vadim
could feel how much he would have liked that if the
man had actually been open about that possibility. No,
wrong. Part of him liked that weight on top. Period.
I don't do this now you'll be screaming by tomorrow."
have a feeling I'll be screaming anyway", Vadim
murmured in Russian, and inhaled deeply.
guess you will." The dry voice again, in Russian
this time, but forever matter-of-fact. Dan moved his
hands, avoided the cuts, believed that air on the wounds
would be better than anything, and fat would not stop
an infection. Water, air, and covering them from the
worst. That would have to do. The grease could come
later when the cuts had closed. No, instead his hands
moved along the sides, not too much pressure, just enough
to tend to the bruises, mindful of the fractures. He
had no intention to dish out agony, even felt the need
to avoid it.
forward, avoiding contact with the back, Dan worked
his way up to the shoulder, before moving down along
the arms, then back to the shoulder. He had no illusion
how much more pain he was causing. He knew better though,
if he didn't work out the muscles now, they would seize
in later. He took his time, ignored the reactions and
concentrated on nothing but the body.
his hands were destined to bring nothing but pain.
pressed his forehead into the ground. The pain was nothing
like the one he remembered - even though it was hard
to remember the whole size of that fucking monster.
But it was still pretty bad.
this hurts, breathe with me.
forced himself to exhale when the SAS guy leaned in,
and inhale when the pressure left. His body remembered
that much. Of course, his shoulder felt no better, probably
even worse. The way he'd been tied up - not good. And
all the punches and kicks - he tried not to remember.
Instead exhaled when it hurt, groaning in pain, that
was permissible, no screaming.
was close enough, but he didn't. Had some guts for a
change. Spetsnaz fucking joke. His drill instructors
would tell stories about Spetsnaz that had rather been
torn to pieces than scream. Vadim wasn't that calibre.
Those stories stayed in the barracks, like all the other
fairy tales. Spetsnaz don't feel pain, and Baba Yaga
is your dad.
wondered for a fraction of a moment why the SAS guy
wanted to spare him more pain. And the weight on top.
Reassuring. Painful, but reassuring.
at the silence, only some groans. Dan couldn't help
but feel respect. Didn't fight against that feeling,
had long ago accepted the notion of respect - even for
an enemy. When it came down to it, they were all just
a rapist, another a torturer.
His hand dug into the shoulder much harder than before,
then eased again, grunted softly. Had to focus on what
he was doing, couldn't let thoughts interfere again.
Just looked at the body before him, ignored the sight
of the cuts, instead worked on the arms, the neck, the
shoulders. Took much longer than he had intended, but
time didn't matter. Darkness was falling, the shelter
illuminated by the flames of the small fire. Still his
hands moved, smoothed, wandered over skin and muscles.
concentrated on the hands until there was nothing else
but the weight and the hands on his skin. Breathed against
the pain, focused on it, taking it in. Accepting.
got better. Much, much better. His body remembered all
the important things about relaxing, about calming and
resting after exertion and fear. The weight shifted
on top, he slowly relaxed his legs, ass, felt the man
move, slightly, leaning into the motion. He was far
from skilled, but all the bits were in place. Strength,
and knowledge of the human body. Knew where the muscles
were and how to reach them.
Brit didn't stop after the pain had turned to a dull,
if angry glow, his shoulder, the ribs. No longer the
muscles themselves. They were soothed, returned to their
places, how they were meant to be.
was aware of hardness and sharp angles, no smoothness
anywhere, just contained strength. Hands slowing, the
movements more deliberate, less focussed. Just touching,
new sensations. Dan had never felt a man before. Not
in this way.
up one arm, following biceps and triceps, dipping into
the hollow of the elbow. Gliding along sunburnt skin,
covered in blond hair, finally ending up at the ropes
that held the pronounced wrists. Then back again, once
more and ever more again.
massage went on, sliding over Vadim's skin, strong hands,
calloused, short fingernails. Vadim felt his body welcome
that, felt a slow, careful desire, even though that
was madness, not for this man, not in this situation.
But something about it aroused him. He closed his eyes
and only opened them when the SAS guy spoke.
cut your back." Out of the blue and in Russian.
Quiet, dark voice, somewhat rough. "It says pizda."
For a moment, Vadim didn't care. He was alive, in one
piece, scars meant nothing, not even when they formed
words. But that word.
would be hard to explain that. To anybody. Doctor, anybody
who could see him under the shower. It meant he had
been defeated and allowed this to happen. Somebody had
done it to him. He kept his forehead on the ground,
felt again, humiliation, shame, self-pity.
Explain that away? How? He nodded, feeling numb, but
on a deeper level, things weren't all that clear. Being
called a cunt and
Accepting that as reality.
Dan didn't know what he had expected, but not this.
This lack of anything. Hands slowed, more, then more.
of fire; howl of a forlorn hunter somewhere in the night.
did you rape me." Silence inside.
tried to move, no, merely shifted, he couldn't actually
get out of it, and he didn't want to. Why. He could
have fucked Vanya. Or anybody else. Plenty of opportunity.
He thought of an excuse, but before he could even start
putting one together understood that the question was
deeper. Why him? Or was it why rape?
clenched his jaw muscle, thinking. "I was
No, the beginning of an excuse. I was drunk, I didn't
think about it, I needed to break something. "Because
you looked like you had a fight in you."
Very close to the truth. "I needed a fight."
Excuse again. Justification. "I wanted you."
Truth. I want you even now, damn it.
for a long time. No sound, no movement, no reaction
except for a narrowing of Dan's eyes, and then they
closed for a long while, but the other could not see
at last, a nod that was transmitted to where their bodies
connected, and then Dan's hands left the oily shimmering
skin. The weight lifted, the rag was put once more across
the back and then the tunic to provide warmth.
never looked back at the other, pulled the Russian's
shirt over his own head ,on top of his jumble of clothes,
grabbed his rifle and walked out into the night. Fuck
the freezing cold, he didn't care.
of sight, swallowed by blackness and stars, the sound
of a match being lit, and the smell of cigarette smoke
wafting back into the shelter.
raised his head and peered into the darkness. He expected
a shot. There were a few recruits - conscripts - that
killed themselves. Sometimes it took the tough ones,
and the ones that had seemed so fragile suddenly grew
steel around their souls. He half expected the other
to kill him now, but he had had no lies, no cover story.
It was either making excuses, or saying the truth. He
doubted he could have gotten away with excuses. He listened
into the night.
he could do, but wait for the other. Who had still covered
him again, made sure he got through the night. He felt
something strange, worry and compassion, oddly enough.
This whole thing had screwed him over, but he had achieved
his objective. His captor had opened up. He had opened
up. That was why it was so difficult. He had to let
down the mask and be a person. He waited for a long
time, then thought the SAS guy had gone, just walked
off. He might be able to stand tomorrow - provided he
could get through the ropes. But walking or marching?
Out of the question. First step would be to try and
find the rifle - any weapon. So he could defend himself.
looked out into the darkness again, but the other could
be anywhere. He woke up because of thirst and because
he thought he had heard or noticed something. But nothing.
had to have fallen asleep again, for in the morning,
when Vadim woke, a man was moving about in the camp,
tending to the fire while eating out of a tin, crouched
on the ground with his back to the other.
short while later Dan stood up and walked over, more
fruit and a different type of meat in another tin, placed
them down on the ground.
Dan pushed the water bottle into the Russian's hands.
had changed. Nothing had ever happened that night in
slept a lot. But sleeping meant he didn't have to move.
He slept when the SAS guy wasn't there, and even slept
when he was around. Always watching the other when he
was awake. Not that there was much to watch. The other
man ate, did the camp duty stuff, and cleaned his weapons.
Even the Dragunov. It felt strange to see the man handle
the sniper rifle. Vadim had always considered that weapon
to be much more elegant than any assault rifle, sleek,
elegant killing power. His rifle. He could shoot with
most things, enemy weapons. The first time he had captured
an antique 19th century Enfield he had amused himself
with that. Amazing that the Afghans still shot with
that kind of weapon.
watched the man wash, watched how his shoulders shifted
under the filthy shirt, firm, round muscles. Dark skin.
Saw him fill up the bottle and take the rifle and vanish
in the mornings when it was still relatively cool. When
he was gone, he started to try out his body, tensed
every muscle, began to work on it again, arms and shoulders,
stomach, chest, tried to keep everything else to a minimum.
He was still hurting, badly, but he needed to move,
if only a little.
the night, they were sharing warmth. And having rested
all day, Vadim found it hard to sleep. One side was
cold, the other warm. He could smell the man, his skin,
his hair, and it was strange getting used to having
him around. Always watching him with thoughts that had
nothing to do with the war, or indeed, escape or weakness.
He knew he was being unprofessional about it. He imagined
touching him, imagined their bodies even closer together.
He'd turn around if it took that, allow him to press
up against him, give him a hand job. Fuck. The same
man who had tried to kill him. He was in no state for
sex, but that didn't mean the thought couldn't creep
up on him. And he knew he was no longer that man's equal.
He'd be the bitch, but it didn't matter. He still wanted
didn't speak. The other only spoke when absolutely pressed,
and Vadim was never quite sure what to say, if anything.
He concentrated on healing.
he could crawl again, then sit up, survey their little
mountain kingdom, and spend days staring out over the
mountains, thinking. Working on excuses, worrying about
capture, being a prisoner. He was not ready to accept
that. The British weren't in this war officially. Even
the Americans weren't.
wondered about the laws. This was an internal affair,
there was no way they could try him for this. No proof
of anything. The government in Kabul wouldn't try him
for this, and wouldn't help anybody who tried. Moscow
wouldn't probably even answer any request like that.
And the KGB might bargain to get him out. As long as
the superiors of his captor played by the rules, he
was a different matter with the Mujahideen, as they
called themselves. Warriors of God. Oh please. If god
existed, he wouldn't certainly need a band of ragtag
goat-fuckers to sort out his stuff. Bandits, pure and
simple. They saw a vacuum of power and tried to fill
it. Physics, nothing more. Jihad all you like.
he was worried about the ways they would kill him if
they could get their hands on him. Savages. Savages
that had a mission from god, and he was a servant of
the devil. Nothing like religion to make people unreasonable.
days passed, and Vadim began to get up and walk a little.
Stretch his legs. It was more staggering than walking,
but if he rested every now and then - and usually quite
soon - he could walk. Careful to hide the progress as
long as possible. He was in no state to try and cover
the fifty or sixty kilometres that he was away from
the nearest Soviet outpost he knew. Even like this,
he needed to be lucky and walk into a patrol.
much as Dan had refused to interact with the Russian,
it was hard to battle physical familiarity when sharing
warmth with another body night after night. He had no
choice, had to be sensible. Kept the man under guard
while pressed close to him, gained warmth and thus remained
with his strength intact. It would have been foolish
to fight the cold on his own. Physical contact at night
as selfish as the need for the Russian to live. At least
Dan kept telling himself that.
hadn't failed to notice some of the other's progress,
the way he moved was less stiff, the way he handled
his food and lifted the bottle. He'd have to tie him
up more securely soon, but felt reluctant still. As
long as the broken ribs had not healed there was no
way the man could run nor fight.
had made up his mind during the long days of hunting
and gathering firewood, had found a solution to his
responsibility. Get rid of the Russian. Get back down
into Kabul under shelter of night and hand him over
to the American embassy. They were still there, in a
highly secured pace, but he knew he would get into it,
and he could make sure the Russian would keep quiet.
the Mujahideen, he couldn't hand the man over to them.
What would be the purpose? To keep him alive, just to
die under even more unspeakable torture? If there was
anything worse than what he had done, the fanatic goat-fuckers
would know it. Jihad, indeed. Fuckers. He did a job
and his duty by training them, but he couldn't give
less than a shit about their motives.
Dan could hold off his grooming no longer. His face
itched with the thick beard stubble, cursing his dark
complexion. Some men shaved every other day, he used
to do it twice when in uniform. Even he could not stand
his own smell anymore. Personal hygiene as important
as cleaning one's weapon - and that of an enemy - and
he'd been forced to neglect the former.
waited until the sun had gone high and the mountains
were once more baking under its merciless rays, before
he got up and brought the goatskin bag out of the water
hole. Stalling for a moment, a thought crept into his
mind, what if that shit-stabbing bastard was going to
stare at him? So what. More men had seen his body than
he bothered to remember. No crumb off his plate and
nothing to see what not all of his mates had seen before.
Communal washing, pissing and shitting, who gave a fuck.
cunt was different, though?
Nothing different. Nothing had happened. If he turned
away now, hididing from the Russian's view, he'd admit
shirt was already off, and Dan pulled the filthy t-shirt
over his head. He felt self-conscious for just a moment,
before discarding the thought. What the fuck, indeed.
He was just a bloke, with a body like everyone else's.
the t-shirt onto a pile with the equally grimy shirt,
he stretched, before bending down to unlace his boots.
Unaware that his body was nothing like anyone else's,
only few looked anything like him. Leaner than the bulky
Russian, but muscular and strong. A powerful black tiger.
Smooth skin, naturally dark, betraying some Italian
ancestor, and perhaps some Arabic or Asian genes thrown
in as well. Who knew who had fucked whom in the past
the while the Vadim was leaning with the good side of
his back to a rock, aimlessly playing with a piece of
stone, rubbed it clean with a thumb, looked at it closer.
Ammonites. He remembered school. All this stuff must
have been sea floor at some point. As much as he missed
the sea, water, all of this had once been covered with
water. Afghanistan had been ocean floor. He looked up
to share that bit of wisdom, just saw the other strip.
fuck. Vadim dropped the pebble. He'd been right about
the other's body. Right from the start. He should have
taken more time. He probably wasn't as obsessed as him
with weightlifting, that man still looked like an athlete.
out of the boots, Dan held his breath when taking off
the socks. Fuck, that stink could kill a man, but he'd
just have to do his best. As long as they kept dry he'd
be alright. He stood for a moment, barefooted and just
in his combats, running a hand through his unruly hair.
Right. Water. Washing then trying to shave with whatever
he could find. That would be his knife and the remains
of the animal fat. Oh joy.
Brit was planning to get cleaned up. Vadim could feel
his own hair and stubble, resented that, he much rather
be completely smooth, and when he was gearing up for
the Olympics, he had been, and it was a bit of a habit.
No beard, ever. His skin didn't like the shaving, but
it liked a beard even less. He watched the preparations.
And how exactly did the other man plan to shave without
a mirror and without cutting half his face off? He smirked,
and got up to shuffle over.
about a deal. You shave me, I shave you." Doubtlessly,
with the knife in the other's face, the other would
probably point a gun at his head. Vadim didn't mind.
Actually, he enjoyed that kind of stand-off.
was about to throw the bucket of water over his head
to wash the dust and loose dirt off. He laughed, once
again that careless sound that didn't seem to have a
place in these mountains, right beside an enemy. "Yeah,
tipped the water bucket, shuddered under the onslaught
of cold water over his head, swore under his breath.
Damn, the Russkie had a point, but he could manage with
peering into a tin or using the surface of the water,
oh fuck. He really did hate it when the arsewipe
had one over him.
came back up, shaking his head like a dog, with water
flying everywhere, running down his face and small rivulets
making their way along his chest and back, reaching
the waistband of the camo trousers, creating an odd
sensation. He should really get those off, give himself
an all-over scrub as best he could and wash his kit
to get it dried in the sun. Yeah, fuck the shit-stabbing
fag, he didn't give a damn. Really. Not at all.
fumbled with the belt, bog standard army issue, by far
not as fancy as the Russian buckle plate with polished
star, undid the buttons and let the trousers unceremoniously
drop to his ankles, stepping out of them. He didn't
care. Not even when the skids followed. No, not at all.
Why would he?
the Russian standing where he was, Dan grabbed the goatskin
bucket-bag and trotted back to the water hole. Stark
naked. "Want me to sponge you down as well?"
Snorted over his shoulder, "or will a towelling
and blow-dry do?"
breathed, but only just barely. Odd, this challenge.
Naked skin gleaming, a body like he had imagined it,
and then wet. Water. Life. Blow-dry. Blowing would be
fine, thank you. Glancing down at himself, tried to
think of something less appealing than digging his teeth
into that dark skin and the round muscle.
if you must", he answered, and grinned.
noted mentally how the man seemed to be reluctant, even
after helping him to piss, eat, after washing the worst
blood off, after feeding him and ensuring he was warm.
He still minded. Probably because that entailed a knife.
He followed to the water hole, ten yards or so, and
felt exhausted when he got there. He'd cancel the next
smirked again, studied the other's backside, smooth
muscle, nice, no, better than nice ass, could see his
cock move. Showering with comrades was nothing like
this. He just about managed to not care when in the
communal shower. He still noticed the other guys' bodies,
and he sometimes selected a target from the ones he
especially liked, but this guy was different.
fought off the urge to look behind him when the Russian
followed, hairs in the back of his neck standing up,
but strangely, not the sixth sense of danger. Something
else, indefinable and unknown. Had the instinct to turn
round and let his fist fly lose once again, stopping
that face from smirking and the mouth from talking.
Forced himself to ignore the urge, the Russkie was still
bruised and swollen enough.
be the first enemy that ever got shaved by Spetsnaz,
and not in the way we mean 'shaving'." As in, cut
Dan shrugged, pulled up some more water, turned to face
the Russian and it was his time to smirk. "And
you're the first Spetsnaz who had cut the word 'cunt'
across his back by an SAS soldier." He tipped the
water over his head again, standing upright, cascading
over his entire body, washing away sweat and dust, grime
pressed his lips together, anger, and, yes, humiliation.
That was true. And then again, that man was the first
SAS that had been raped by a Spetsnaz. Even better.
Spetsgruppe Vympel. KGB strong-arm. "You can't
win this", Vadim murmured, darkly. "So, stop
it." Regimental pride, whatever. Only the fact
that he'd have the scars, and they proved exactly that
he had been at the mercy of somebody else. The spooks
would love that.
you, Russkie." Dan spit some water to the ground,
wiped a hand over his face and slicked the wet hair
out of his forehead. "You bear the scars. You're
visible, and if I wanted, I could 'win'. Right here,
right now." Dan's eyes narrowed, a dangerous look
of distaste and something more, deeper, darker. "But
I'm not like you." Spit out the last word, "Shit-stabbing
shook his head. Oh yes, you are exactly like me.
turned, crouched to get more water, but out of easy
reach of any attempt to kick, all the time the Russian
in his vision, his body was tense, obviously ready to
fight, but then he turned without another word and walked
back out into the sun, to where the knife and grease
tub lay. Reaching for his pistol, stashed away in the
Russkie's neck cloth, protected from dust and damp.
He cocked it, safety off, pointed it at the Russian,
sharp gesture of his chin.
You shave." Dan had just entered a dangerous game,
but he couldn't stop gambling.
followed, then reached for the grease and the knife,
checked the sharpness of the blade. He'd have to be
careful, but it should be enough. Again able to kill,
if he wanted. But right now, he wanted to get closer.
"Sit down." He knelt down, opened his knees
to have a firm position, motioned the man closer. Could
study his features, now in the sunlight.
knelt, even moved closer, close enough to be between
the other's knees. Too close. Far too close and what
the fuck had he gotten himself into? He forced the swallow
back down, refused to show his tension, but couldn't
quite manage to relax his body. Raised the hand with
the pistol and pushed it beneath the Russian's throat,
level with the cigarette burn, right in the hollow.
the fucker cut his throat, he'd still have time to pull
the trigger. Dan was self-conscious, naked, fought down
the urge to jump up, thought of all the times he'd shat
and pissed together with his mates. It didn't matter.
Was just the same. Only a body, like everyone else's.
sun was cruelly belting down onto Dan's naked body,
but his dark-toned skin greeted the vicious heat as
if it were a welcome friend. Glowing like burnished
copper, turning his wet, dark hair into gleaming quartz.
squinted, wondered where to start, then decided on the
left cheek. Grease. Heated skin, stubble, the man's
hair was wavy and wet, glistening in the sun. Wet skin
and wet hair. Something amazingly attractive about it.
He placed the blade on the skin, eyes narrow with concentration.
Started near the ear, did notice the curve of his neck,
the tan. He should be wearing dog tags. A slight smirk.
Scraping the hair off, slowly, deliberately, the whisper
of blade against skin. He knew about the pistol, and
that made it almost better. Almost.
of steel against that dark skin. He took the man's chin
in his head, tilted it to the side to follow the jaw
bone, then wiped the grease on his trousers, high on
his thigh. He didn't want to move out of this.
tilted his head when the blade began its journey, brown
eyes fixing on narrowed ice, the sensation against his
skin had a strange effect, almost relaxing. Minute movements,
tiny increments of released tension, as his head began
to simply move with the hand that guided his chin.
This was good.
could smell fresh sweat and the heat of the other's
body, scent of sun burning on glistening skin, and his
eyes dropped away from the face, watched the movement
of the shoulders. Muscles rolling slowly beneath smooth
skin, sunlight gleaming off nearly white-blond hairs,
almost a girl's. Dan blinked slowly, lazily.
like a girl.
felt the other falling in stride, stopping to resist
him on some level. The way, maybe, he breathed. Down
the trace of stubble, down to the cheek. He broke contact
only for a moment to rub some more grease onto the face,
cheek and chin, but he'd save the chin for later, shaved
the cheek, neatly traced the line of bone. Moved the
other's head to the side, more grease, shaved the other
side, jaw, cheek. Instil
hadn't been touched like that in ages. Wrong. Couldn't
remember. Wondered if anyone had ever been that
what? Determinedly intimate? He'd shake his head, or
shrug his shoulders, if he didn't have the blade close
to his lips, and if he simply didn't lack the will to
do anything at all.
relax, even just for a few moments, had been impossible
since he'd come to this motherfucking country. Ridiculous
to do it now, his throat and face under an enemy's blade,
his pistol shoved into the groove of the same enemy's
throat. Yet relax he did, gave himself over to the steady
change of movement, blade, fingers, grease and the comfort
of all encompassing heat.
fucking insane, Dan!
cared. Closed his eyes for a moment, bloody suicidal,
didn't give a shit. Just a moment, this one precious
moment, and allowed his body to give in and react to
the rare physical comfort. He was getting hard, and
for once, he just didn't give a damn. He could always
kill the fucker later.
never gambled in a more dangerous game.
next bit would take longer, and take more concentration.
Vadim carefully worked around the round, broad chin,
doing small strips of skin every time, only stopped
to wipe the blade on his trousers. Then raised the other's
head and placed the blade on his upper lip. The curves
there, the way the man could sneer and mock and
other things. He forced himself to breathe, and shivered
as the blade touched the other's lips.
was hard, aroused, didn't take much in the last days.
This man did it, did it just like his favourite memory.
Vadim would have killed to touch those lips, instead
finished the upper lip, and wiped the knife again, changed
the grip, relaxed his wrist.
the man's small dark nipples, hard, no water left on
him, and he clearly wasn't cold. It turned Vadim's own
arousal into lust; he was perfectly capable of exploiting
a moment like this, a reaction like this.
to be the knife. They both liked the control it brought,
the dangerous possibilities. Vadim took a bit more grease
and began to prepare the throat, the sides thick with
muscle, but a long neck, powerful, maybe slightly too
long, definitely how he stretched it now.
the head back and began to scrape up, starting at the
sides again. Shifting his weight as Vadim paused, bringing
one knee between the other's legs. Close enough to brush
against. Feigning ignorance.
parted his lips to let out a breath that seemed to be
heavier. Telling himself he was fucking insane, a bloody
nutcase, but still bared his throat and closed his eyes
again. What if the Russian used the knife to cut his
throat? He had plenty of reasons, hell, if it were him,
he'd kill a fucker like himself in an instance. He wasn't
suicidal, never had been, had just a bloody great big
screw loose right now. So big, he had to have lost his
senses, because he shuddered when the knee brushed his
cock, breathed out "Oh fuck
of shooting the wanker.
felt it go right through his body, those two words.
There was still the pistol, and the things people did
when they came, he'd heard a story about a rape at gunpoint,
and the stupid soldier had pulled the trigger when he
came. Almost funny. Almost.
inched closer, offered more friction, his free hand
- fucking right hand, and it still hurt to move that
arm, only it was the greased up hand. Moved and found
the cock, heavy and hot, silky. Good moment to pull
the trigger, Vadim thought, idly stroking the other
man. He wanted him. Truth. He himself looked like warmed-up
death, felt exactly like that, but he had always and
would always want. This. Man.
thought went into a frenzy.
Oh shit. Fuck. Goddamned motherfucking shit and damn
and fuck and
of swear words in Dan's mind, jumble of thoughts, just
sensations. Too much. That hand knew what it was doing.
Fuck the man, destroy that cunt, the Russian knew too
much. Too much to live and tell the tale; too much and
more than he himself had ever known. Ragged breath,
Dan tipped his head back even more, pushed the muzzle
of the pistol harder into the throat. Simultaneous actions,
dark mirror images of insanity. Wrong, goddamned wrong
and much too right.
tensing, pronounced ropes beneath sweat gleaming skin,
and more feeling, every stroke. Much too much, far too
Dan's head moved like a sprung coil, eyes open, body
ready for flight. "I'm not like you." Thick
voice, breath heavy. "I'm not."
the knife away from his face, then the hand, slapped
it away with the pistol. Loss of friction, bereft. The
hardest thing he'd ever done. Should have pulled that
trigger, a week ago.
looked at him, dropped the knife, knew the other was
in a mind to shoot or fuck him or both. And how sick
of him to find that arousing? He'd been in this country
for too long. Too long in the army. It made sense in
the army, it didn't anywhere else.
not like you." Dan repeated his prayer. "I'm
not a fag."
not I'm not I'm not I'm not I'm not
got up, too fast. Almost an escape.
you're not", Vadim murmured, finding it very hard
to speak. "Not a weak-ass sissy boy like me."
He laughed. It wasn't funny, not with what he wanted
and couldn't get. "Vanya wasn't, either. Man you
killed. We would fuck, but he wasn't
Vanya much preferred women, but he got hard in a fight,
and he enjoyed struggle. Had.
down at the Russian, Dan hadn't noticed he was aiming
the pistol at the other's head. Repetition of another
time. He got the sarcasm, narrowed his eyes, brows furrowing,
sharp dark shapes and lines in his sunburnt face.
he was even more of a sick fuck." He felt nothing
for the other man's death, nothing but a memory of satisfaction.
That 'Vanya' had gotten what he deserved, erased out
of Dan's mind. Another dead body, stacked up amongst
nameless, faceless others.
Girls. Remembered their bodies, just as nameless and
faceless as the men he had killed. Fuck a cunt, blow
a brain; shoot your load down a bird's throat, cut a
man's windpipe. It made no difference, it had no impact.
But this had, and Dan sensed a truth he would kill for,
if it were spoken out aloud. He wanted that hand back
on his cock and it did matter. It had impact. And he
fucking hated that man.
not like this 'Vanya'."
close to the truth.
his knees, pistol pointed at his face, and Vadim was
hard. Nothing new there. It became a bit of a habit.
The only new thing about it was that he found defeat
almost as arousing as struggle. Or victory, for that
matter. He liked the rage, the confusion. If he had
been into mindgames right now, he would have fulfilled
another objective. The enemy was confused, conflicted,
had been pushed out of his stoic equilibrium, and was
confronted with reality. Reality as Vadim could present
other man wanted to bolt, but he probably wanted to
get off even more. Vadim raised his hands, universal
sign of defeat, and giving up. "Nothing sick about
getting off", he murmured in Russian. "Do
you believe I would tell anybody? I'm your prisoner."
just about managed to keep the smile away. Hoped the
term 'prison' in that would strike a chord, the one
that said revenge and situational homosexuality. "It
won't matter. It won't matter if you make me suck you
off." He closed his eyes for a moment. "You
got the gun. You got the rules. Simple."
really are a sick fucker." Dan's eyes widened,
suddenly understanding the situation. Perhaps not with
all its implications, hidden meanings and ulterior motives,
but he got the message. Too loud, too clear, and shook
his head. "No."
wanted, needed, wanted too fucking much.
want me to force you." He took a step back, the
pistol was still aimed at the other, but it had no meaning.
This was going over his head, the whole mess of fucked-up
men. Just this snake-sliding promise in his mind, words
slithering around in his brain, repeating their poisonous
pledge. As irresistibly snake-like as the hatred had
you off. Suck you off. Put those lips around your cock,
let you fuck my throat and suck you off.
cunt want me to make you."
inhaled. The man kept dodging. Kept moving away. He
didn't care about the force, this one or any other.
It wasn't desperate measures. It was something he wanted
and something that would fulfil an objective. Crawl
into the man's mind. Into his fucking pants. His body.
Now, this was starting to become a mindgame, and he
could tell that the other didn't get it.
remained on his knees. "No. I want to go home after
this." A half-smile. "But that gun could make
sure I'm not going to bite." His body open and
vulnerable, tense. Hard. "Or that knife."
A glance towards the discarded weapon. "You just
gotta love that control."
Dan's anger was rising, the aggression of a man who
found himself out of control. He wasn't up to this shit,
had never been a man of anything but actions. "Sick
fucker." Frowned, felt taken the piss out of, confused,
belittled, because he didn't understand. Just one thing
his body was still getting and clinging to with desperate
greed, and that was this man's offer.
that wasn't what rooted Dan to this spot. It was far
more, ran much deeper, and the only weapon he had was
this one stubborn word. "No." No rifle, no
pistol, no blade could stop him from falling prey to
to what? "No."
himself to turn away, stalk over to the water hole without
another glance back. Wanted to shout with frustration
for having torn himself from that poisonous promise.
Got water, scrubbed his face, washed his body, anything,
everything, like a well-oiled machine, while every fibre
of his being was screaming in protest.
to get rid of that Russian. Get back to who he was before.
The man he was familiar with. Himself. Before. Before
did he hate now?
shook his head, then lowered his hands and put them
on his thighs. Never mind his own desire. The only thing
he could force was a stand-off, and the other pulled
away too soon.
the other's face in his hand, the way that throat, the
jugular had pulsed under the knife. He would have come
right into his trousers. Vadim was that fucking close.
He lay down, exhausted, felt his mind return to blunt
waiting, all the knives and edges hidden, snapped back
to stoic acceptance of the fact he was a prisoner, and
then again, this kind of manoeuvre
took longer. He needed to be patient. No defeat yet.
It would give the other something to think about. Next
night. Sharing warmth. He was pretty sure the other
would remember. And the night would cover them both.
Much easier to lie to yourself when it's dark.
rested, allowed his body to relax again, waited for
the arousal to subside. Wouldn't do to show him that
now. The other was too close to rage, and that meant
kicking and punching and hitting. And he was just about
to make progress.
the sun was past the mountain range, Vadim stirred again,
and decided to wash.
slowly, carefully, could feel his back and the wounds,
one line of
letters, that word. Only glad that
sometime in the last days, the other had taken the rope
off. He could walk. In theory. Hands tied, but rope
long enough to help himself. Ease the strain on the
shoulders. Just the way he was tied up told him the
other didn't consider him a direct or very serious threat.
Then again, he wasn't.
to the water hole and reached for the rope. He wouldn't
ask for help. But he needed to clean himself, and wash
the remainder of his clothes. The stones kept the heat,
it might be enough for them to dry if he started now.
again, sharing heat was much more effective when both
were naked. He couldn't help but smirk at that.
had washed his kit and laid them out on the stones in
the sun, but hadn't put them back on except for the
trousers. Still damp, but a damn sight better than being
naked. Something uncomfortably vulnerable about nakedness
right now, not something he usually felt, blamed the
glanced over when the other made his laborious way to
the water, then returned to his task of preparing the
excess meat he had shot the day before. A tin of unidentifiable
vegetables and a rabbit would make the day's feast.
The meat was lacking salt, but it would have to do,
at least the tinned veg were in some sort of brine.
Letting everything heat up on the small fire, he walked
over to his clothes to check if they were dry. Once
the sun had set, they would get damp in the coldness
of the night.
Dan muttered, they were still rather damp. Nothing like
putting wet clothes on one's body when it was freezing
cold, eh? Bloody stupid! If he hadn't wasted time with
that fucker, they would have dried. Glancing over to
the other, he watched him trying to wash.
That was the word that came to mind when looking at
that body, even though Dan was a broad, tall motherfucker
himself, there was something different about the Russian.
What had the files said? Olympian pentathlete.
back out over the setting sun, bathing the mountainous
region in a disgustingly picturesque burst of colour,
Dan called over to the Russkie. "Hey, cunt, what
about that shave." He didn't give a flying fuck
about the bastard's discomfort, but fleas or nits in
a growing beard while forced to share body heat? No
looked up. He used his left hand to wash, the right
just didn't want to do it, just knuckles on the ground,
not even stabilizing much. His shoulder was a mess of
dark blue, purple, even black. Left hand.
Katya. Left-handed fencer. Pristine technique. Out of
the top ten fencers in the world, more than half were
left-handers. Vadim never got his head around where
she would attack, it was fighting a mirror, disconcerting.
That was why he had married her. And the thought he
could still try and be
what he was not. She guessed
it, even then. They had ended up in bed with another
athlete, male, and everything followed logically from
there. Alcohol helped. Being out, free, unleashed.
shook his head, proceeded to wash the dust off, the
dirt, bowed his head to wash his hair. Too long. Heard
the dog tags jingle as he stooped forward. Looked up
again. "Sure." Half a smirk forming. The knife
to his skin? The man wanted to see him horny and defenceless.
Alright. Maybe that would push him over the edge. Maybe
that would finally break through the defences.
gestured towards the fire, no point not to utilise what
little warmth it gave when the sun was setting. There
was still enough light for at least another half hour.
He once again prepared the knife, grabbed a rag he had
lifted from the destroyed village, and got the remaining
Pointing to a space beside the fire.
got up, laboriously, also took so much strength. Hurt
in his ribs, hurt in his back, only his shoulder didn't
mind unless he moved the arm.
walked towards the fire, knelt down again, felt the
warmth. Knees open, bound hands hanging down between
them, protecting his groin. Just in case the other felt
like he should kick him. Looked at the man, then lowered
very image of a docile beast.
didn't like that. He frowned, it felt wrong. Shook his
head once, said nothing. Took a slab of grease and grabbed
the man's chin. Yanking it upwards, angry. Annoyed that
he should play the docile prisoner. Preferred to deal
with the Russian as the bastard, the beast, not the
rubbed the fat into the blond stubble. Took his time,
thorough, would be difficult enough to shave like that.
Smoothed his calloused hands over the angular planes
and sharp jaw line; up to the high cheekbones and down
the soft tissue of the throat. Heated skin against his
hand, reminded him of the night, the massage and the
question, several nights ago. And an answer that made
a painful amount of sense.
took the knife, tilted the head to the side and began
the blade's journey, like the Russian had done, near
the temple, working his way downward, intermittently
wiping the blade on the rag.
else vanished when Vadim felt the blade. Yes, he had
manoeuvred himself into this situation, the other did
exactly what he had planned. For the objective, and
his own needs. Moved his head willingly. And what if
the man decided to cut another word into his flesh?
What if he decided to render him unfit for service?
It would only take a short stab to the eye.
held his breath, looked up into the other's face. The
focus. And the strange introspective expression. That
didn't happen a lot. The man was thinking. Something
vulnerable about it. The knife scraped close to the
jaw line, towards his jugular. He remembered Vanya's
wound. He had had plenty of time to look at that wound
on the way back. Strength, determination, and skill.
Vanya had bled out like an animal.
swallowed, felt his body respond to the danger. Anything
could get him hard now, and definitely that closeness.
Vulnerable himself. Still somewhat in control. Because
he was working towards an objective. Open him up.
on his task, Dan didn't even try not to think, he didn't
tend to focus on several things at the same time. Too
damn straightforward, one of his Officers in Command
had once said - too bloody perfect for this job, the
Board had agreed. Not officer material, but a Special
Forces soldier par excellence. He did the dirty work,
turned elaborate hopes and plans into reality. But fuck,
he wasn't an intellectual.
below the jaw line, the blade meticulously shaved off
stubble, never nicked the skin. Dan's gaze fell down,
away from the face in his hand, and he stopped the motion
of the knife.
stopped short and frowned, an expression of deep thinking,
of trying to understand. "What the fuck is it with
you?" Pointedly staring at the hard-on. "If
I cut your throat, would you come?"
nostrils flared, then he was gulping for air. Trying
to understand the question. Oh well, there probably
was a reason why the SAS guy had looked down there.
Sex and Death. No, lust and death. Dying. He felt the
tension, wanted to bare his teeth in a grin. Bit back
the smartass comment, discarded a 'Maybe. You want to
provoke him. You are not a threat. Remember. Don't threaten.
He had no way to cash in on any threat. That was not
lied." Vadim looked into the dark eyes. "I
Simple Past when I told you why. It is not
Simple Past. Simple Present. Not 'wanted'. It's 'want'."
Dan's frown deepened, he had the vague sensation that
he was being taken the piss out of again. Didn't like
feeling stupid, hated confusion, and this goddamned
bastard was confusing the hell out of him. "What
the fuck are you talking about?" Hand still poised,
grip on the chin intensified. Fingers splayed, cupped
closer, subconsciously increasing contact.
breathed hard. The grip on his chin. The knife close.
The enemy flustered yet again. He briefly closed his
eyes. "It's quite simple." Breathing again.
He expected another explosion, like a dog that had been
kicked too often. But he couldn't afford one of those
ribs to go into a lung.
homosexual." The English word the closest
to the Russian one. "Or let me rephrase. I'm queer.
Gay. I indulge in indecent acts with other men. I'm
quite fond of shit-stabbing. I have sucked men off.
Mostly, they suck me off. You, whatever's your name,
I don't think you'll ever tell me, but it doesn't matter,
you are dangerous. You've given me fight of my life.
Beating of my life, too, but that's part of deal. You
fucking attractive. You are naked, I am naked,
and that's whole thing. Nothing complicated about it."
was no doubt that Dan had just received his plain answer.
No doubt at all, no ambiguity and not a margin for uncertainty.
It was exactly the kind of answer he preferred. Straightforward,
black and white. Dan listened to each and every word,
remained still and silent. Scrutinised the other, studied
that man on his knees. Long, drawn-out, worrying moments
of silence, and then he suddenly burst into movement,
sound of abandoned laughter, he was almost pissing himself
with it, laughing so hard, he did well to let go of
the chin, or his hiccups of hilarity could have cut
the throat involuntarily. Just laughing, not even hysterically,
simple, straight-forward laughter. Shaking his head
in the end, like a kid that couldn't stop laughing,
a boy unable to get to grips that others might not find
it quite so impossibly funny. In fact, he didn't even
know why he was laughing so hard, but it all made sense,
and the sense was insanity.
moved his head away at the laughter. Prepared to be
finished off, bullet, now, the final conversation stopper.
The man was going insane, or maybe it was the pressure
that finally broke. Which was a good thing. Like opening
up a festering wound. He waited, patient, but no shot,
calmed to be able to speak, "Tell me one thing,
Russkie. Just one more." His chuckles hadn't completely
subsided yet, "Would you do it again, if you could?"
He was sobering along the words, until he finally stopped
even the last of his smirks, and turned serious. "Tell
me, would you rape me again if you had the chance?"
the word again, dredging the Nothing out of Nothing.
Strange, it had become easier. As if dealing with somebody
question. The fucking question. Oh indeed. Yes, he would,
thought Vadim. He would take more time, maybe wreak
mostly to be able to do it again,
and again, feel that submission, the other mind at breaking
point again. Wouldn't order him to be shot. Wouldn't
violence? Yes. Fucking him? Absolutely.
looked up, felt the other's seriousness settle on his
shoulders, a weight being lowered down. Yes was the
wrong answer. If he wanted to screw with this guy's
mind, an apology, or maybe regret would be in order.
Only he did not feel enough inside for an apology, not
enough guilt. He had done worse than that.
it remained the perfect moment. The moment of complete
and utter clarity, of urge and instinct and knowledge.
Battle of wills. "Yes. I would. Differently, but
I would. If I could have you, I'd take you." So
much for the mindgame.
Vadim was losing control.
really, for Dan this was once again the perfect answer.
Truth, cutting to the bone and sharp like iron spikes.
Simple and crystalline truth. He didn't like dealing
with anything else. He nodded and said nothing for a
while. His usual habit. Think first - speak later, and
more often than not, don't speak at all.
know, Russkie, you're a goddamned fucking wanker and
I hate your guts, but I give you that, I appreciate
your honesty." A long speech for him. "I can't
hand went back to the chin, as if nothing had happened
in the last five minutes. The knife was back, poised
at the last remaining patches of stubble. The blade
moved down once more as he tilted the Russian's head,
while he was thinking again, or just concentrated on
his task, like earlier. "Best make sure you never
get the chance again, eh, Russkie?"
Fucking nerve. Spine, guts, all the qualities that Vadim
respected. Stupid. More than respected. Next objective:
Get him to use his name. He needed to take control,
win the initiative, at least part of it. "Name
is Vadim." Almost defiant again. He figured he
would be quite pissed off at that nickname 'Russkie'
if he had been Bielorussian or even Ukrainian. "Don't
give me the chance. I guess that's your safest bet,
shrugged, another one of his habits, finished the last
bit of stubble, then moved the head up and down, studying
his work before letting go of the chin, wiping the blade
with the rag. "I don't care what your name is,
Russkie. To me you're a cunt."
light had been getting dim and Dan glanced out at the
horizon where the sun had vanished behind the mountains.
He could feel the chill starting to creep towards them,
but shit, his kit was still damp. Pointing at the fire
where the veg with the pieces of rabbit meat were boiling
away in the tin.
be freezing soon and my kit's still damp. It'll do as
cover though, on top of yours." Adding after sheathing
the knife and moving it well out of the Russian's reach.
He sat on the ground, warming his toes on the fire,
reaching for the tin, and placing it between the Russian
and himself. "Eat."
wasn't hungry. He could feel his strength sap away again,
like a tide. He was either fully there or lethargic.
Now the tide turned towards lethargic. He was starting
to be cold, and he rubbed his face, used the remainder
of the grease and rubbed it over his face, felt the
sunburn bite, his shoulders. Didn't need his skin to
dry out and go even worse. "Have yours."
pulled his legs up to place his elbows on the knees,
leaned against a rock, careful not to touch any of his
wounds. Looked at his wrists that looked more raw than
they felt. He'd been tied up for a week. And the stronger
he got, the more likely it was that the other would
do bad stuff to his shoulders again. He missed running.
Fencing, too, the white, clean, precise, tactical sport.
He'd had enough shooting recently to last him a while.
looked at the other man, the steaming food, rubbed his
face against this upper arm, skin taut and burnt. The
man would sleep close again. Of course. "You guys.
You are the fathers of spetsnaz. Did you know that?
The Kremlin wanted something like you, and it created
started to tuck into the food, chewing the bland meal
with gulps of fresh, cool water in between. He'd run
out of cigarettes two days ago and would murder for
a strong coffee and a fag. Fag. He got one. Right here
his attention to the other, Dan nodded, chewing on some
rabbit. "Sure I know. They didn't get it right,
though. They turned us into killers and you lot? You're
murderers." Washing the food down with some water.
Murderers. Probably a linguistic fine point. "We
operate behind enemy lines. The rules are different
there. We do what we do to get the job done. We are
fighting irregulars here. They don't wear uniforms.
Even you are not officially here."
strange, you Russians. You don't give a shit about human
life. Kill one, ten or ten thousands, even of your own
people. It doesn't matter to you, you just throw more
lives into the machinery. As long as you reach the objective."
Dan had finished three quarters and pushed the tin over
to the other. This time he didn't offer but ordered.
Sacrifices. Strange that the other would talk about
Russian lives. Not the village. Any of the villages.
"It matters. Do you think we don't feel pain? We
have families. We are not assembled like tanks or planes.
We are people. If you had fucking attacked Germany and
gotten your act together, you and those American cowards,
we wouldn't have lost millions of soldiers. Truth is,
we won big war, every square inch of our soil drenched
in our blood and that of enemy, while you waited. Glorious
British Empire. Kept back and let Russians do fucking
job. You thought every Russian dead soldier is one you
won't have to fight. If it hadn't been for us, you bastards
would now speak German."
stood up laboriously, felt the pain. "And you call
what? Inhuman? Machine-like? We
do this to build better world, where people are not
exploited. Your system is enemy, and you're poisoning
rest of fucking world." He knew he was raving,
but that particular itch had been with him from childhood.
The main thing he had against Europe. That man wasn't
responsible. He shook his head. "Our leaders aren't
perfect. Of course they aren't. But we are people."
hell, you have a chip on your shoulder the size of your
beloved Mother Russia! Have they indoctrinated you that
much with their party routine and political bullshit?
What are you, Russkie, eh? KGB? No, can't be, you're
not smooth and slick enough for that. "
That sobered Vadim. That one thing the other should
never know. He was more political than a normal soldier,
even para. Part of a select elite.
think you are better than us?" Now it was up to
Dan to stand up, face to face with the other, there
was less than an inch of difference.
height. Same built. Two worlds apart.
and your bloody glorious Soviet Army, you went and destroyed
those villages, but oh no, not cleanly, fuck no, you
poisoned the wells, you killed the children, you murdered
the women, and why? Because you don't give a shit if
it's in the way of your political target. Fine. Accuse
us of crap the Brits might have done over thirty years
ago, but you better face the present, if you want to
compare." Dan stepped closer, face to face and
eye to eye. Neither of them giving in. "You can
accuse the British Forces of being stupid for trying
to avoid the loss of civilians, I would probably even
agree with you, but you say your villages and families
make you people, and I say, trying to spare lives makes
frowned, "The difference between civilian and guerrilla
is AK. These villages are in our security zones. They
need to leave, they don't, we kill them and make sure
they will not return. These villages feed and shelter
enemies. And if killing a thousand of them means I get
my men back alive, I'd kill two fucking thousand."
glared at the other, tried to stare him down like one
prize bull another. Two alpha males before the fight.
"You want to know why I didn't cut your balls off,
stuffed them down your throat and watched you die? You
want to know it? I don't give a shit about you, Russkie,
family, kids, wife, village, country, beliefs, sexuality
or not. I don't give a flying fuck. I saw you take down
the village, I watched you bring out the mothers by
splattering their children's brains into the dirt. You
call yourself a killer? I call that a murderer, and
if you had died under my hands, cunt, I would have been
one of you. And that's why you live - no more, no less,
no other reason. I didn't continue because you asked
for the mercy to die as a soldier; because you called
to me as a soldier, and that's what I am." Dan
snorted, so angry he didn't realise he was probably
giving the longest speech of his entire life, eyes ablaze,
fists clenched, every muscle in his body tense and pronounced.
you asked for the mercy to die as a soldier.
stood his ground against the anger, was confused by
the backlash, these were more words in one go than he'd
heard from this man. Showing, clearly, that he wasn't
stupid. Not nearly stupid. Surprise, or not. There was
more beyond that animal cunning every special forces
soldier worth his salt possessed.
yes, that one moment, no, during the whole last part
of the torture, he had asked for mercy. Bargained his
pride away and got his life out of it. He wasn't the
type that would die just because propaganda told him
he should rather die than betray his pride. Ultimately,
a failure, and a victory. Vadim's eyes were narrow.
"I have an obligation. A duty. I have received
my orders, and nothing will stop me to fulfil those."
understand." Dan snarled, barely brought his teeth
apart. "You're 'just following orders'. I congratulate
you, comrade, you will go far. The perfect soldier."
He snorted. "Just a shame you're a sick bastard
who's ruled by his cock, isn't it?" Short, stab
of laugh, this time sharp, cruel. "That fucking
cock of yours gets you killed one day, and if not that,
then it'll get you into shit so deep, your 'obligations'
won't get you out of it."
by his cock.
swallowed, sobered up more, felt those thoughts move
into the back of his head. Sick bastard. Now, those
were proper insults. And they actually went through
his skin. "I'll execute the next one myself",
he snarled, "don't you worry about it." Oh
fuck. The words were out before he could keep them in.
He moved back, away from the fire, not turning his head,
and walked over to the bit of bed the other had built.
Sickened by the thought he still depended on him.
took the last words, kept them in the back of his mind.
'Next time'. So the fucker would be out again, raping
and killing another. Fuck. By granting mercy because
of his selfish need, he'd created a monster. No, not
created. The Russian had done that himself, long ago.
Dan took a deep breath, inhaled noisily, forcibly unclenching
his fists. "Eat now or I stuff the food down your
throat. You'll live, until I've taken you to the embassy,
and after that, good fucking riddance, Russkie. May
you never see me again, but if you do, watch your goddamned
That meant enemy's hands. The other had finally given
away his intentions. Vadim needed to get away, somehow.
Needed to find his own people before that happened.
He sat down, heavily, tried to lie on his side. Ribs
or shoulder didn't allow that, whichever way he turned.
He felt every stone dig into him like a muzzle.
looked at the leftover food, debated if he should make
the threat real, decided he couldn't be bothered. The
enemy was strong enough to survive by now, best he stuffed
the veg and meat down his own throat instead. It took
a few minutes and he had finished the rest, gulping
some more of the water.
was on his stomach again, resting his head on his hands.
So much for trying to get into the guy. So much for
using his superior education and intelligence. He'd
blown this. Breathing deeply, trying to force himself
to sleep, or, if that failed, to act as if he was sleeping.
seriously, deeply and utterly, resented having to share
body warmth with the Russian that night. Pissed off
there was no alternative, even if his kit was dry, he'd
spend one night freezing out there in the mountains,
he didn't want another one. Best to see the arsewipe
as a useful source of heat and forget that he hated
the bundle of clothes he walked over to where the Russian
was lying, starting to drape bit after bit over him,
before lying down himself, as usual, on his side, facing
the wanker. Facing, but closed his eyes he didn't want
to see that face. It had been too much, testing the
resolve of even the strongest man.
didn't know nor cared if the Russian was asleep, shuffling
close, despite truly loathing the contact, he was falling
asleep quicker than he had thought. His waking mind
despised the closeness, but his body didn't.
couldn't drift off to sleep, even mentally exhausted
as he was. He needed to get out of here, needed to get
away from that man. Wanting him, desiring him, even,
still, but he had heard the warning shot. He turned
his head and looked at the Brit.
The anger was back, that told him he was on the mend.
He'd gotten too close, up to the point where he saw
things he'd rather not. Degenerate. Pervert.
think you can't win because of this.
Quite the opposite. He knew people would have expected
him to fail, and that made it impossible to accept defeat.
Even if his talents were actually limited. He was good,
but not exceptional. Hard work, dedication, but he didn't
have that edge. That was why they had finally given
up on him, and didn't send him to the next Olympics.
He could have competed, maybe, won respect, looked good
on camera, but not won a medal that time. But the fact
they hadn't wanted him in Moscow. In his own country,
his own city.
man made him feel that defeat. He would need to get
away, tomorrow. Maybe the day after that. He would have
to risk it. Find his boots. Without water, without food,
through territory that was as difficult and hostile
as it came. He'd try it anyway. Better to die trying
it than be delivered into the enemies' hands.
was back at square one.
was asleep. The sleep of the righteous? Fuck knew. He
never remembered his dreams, wouldn't this night either.
He twitched, muscle spasms when slipping into deep sleep,
almost violent movements, then they ceased. Breathing
deep and regular, his face relaxed, smoothing the lines
of wind and sun, softening the curve of the lips. No
more anger, just a man, asleep, not thinking.
sound, then movement, shuffling closer. Head seeking
heat, burrowing into the crook of Vadim's neck and shoulder,
a hand reaching, moving, then resting on a bare hip.
again, peaceful calm.
was even more awake now. Bastard probably thought he
was a girl. Nearly twohundredandtwenty pounds of girl
right there. He sneered, and closed his eyes. Fuck you.
I'm still running tomorrow. And you'll have to kill
me to stop me.
and uncaring, Dan slept throughout the night.
next morning was like all the others before. Dan had
moved away from the other's body during the night, thus
never knowing how he had been sleeping. Water, food,
getting his kit on and grabbing both of the rifles,
he was off once more to shoot something to eat. They
were starting to run low on meat.
time, though, he bound the Russian's ankles again, had
seen him move the day before and was already pondering
to take more drastic measures, but then there were the
ribs and the shoulder. But in the end, what would it
matter? Bloody bastard would be taken back to Kabul
no matter what.
tried not to show the frustration when the other bound
his ankles again. Those knots were a bitch, but if he
worked hard, he could free himself. He would have to
get out of the camp. He put on his passive act, was
docile, like he was exhausted. Keeping his strength,
his hatred as fuel inside.
didn't speak that morning, seemed he had used up his
contingency words the day before, enough for weeks to
come. The morning was still cool when he made his way
back out of camp, scouring the mountain for a goat,
rabbit or other unsuspecting provider of protein.
the other left camp, Vadim started looking for his rifle.
Couldn't find it, and gave up. Another piece of kit
he'd lost. They sent him out, and he came back with
only the uniform on his back. No knife to sever the
Vadim needed to get up the mountain, cross it, and that
would be hard work in his state. Couldn't even put his
clothes on, his hands still bound, but grabbed his scarf
and tunic. Managed to pry the knot loose that fastened
the rope between his ankles, found his boots, then began
to walk up the mountain. Step by step. Willpower against
weight and wounds. He should have been wet with sweat,
but the sun took it before it even cooled. Fucking desert.
Nothing to take, nothing to carry it with. No strength
to carry anything. On the way up, he more often than
not bent over and using both hands, preventing him to
fall. He needed to attract attention. Out into the killing
could still see the campsite when he doubted the first
time he could do it. Everything hurt, breathing, most
of all, and he was so unsteady he risked falling with
every step. Broken terrain, stones, some so loose he
felt like walking on snow.
when he had walked for an hour, starting to feel despair.
No challenge at all if he had been alright. Fucking
walk in the park.
walked on, saw a trail snake around the mountain on
the other side. What passed for a road in this place.
He should avoid it, really, but chances were he might
walk into a patrol. And he could see far enough to get
off the trail when Afghans showed up. At least he hoped.
He nearly collapsed again, but made it to the trail.
Towards the territory the Soviets occupied. Controlled
area. He walked on, concentrated on every single step,
then just walked on because he couldn't pause and risk
not being able to get up again.
Dan was lucky that day and returned two hours later
with a rabbit. Returned to an empty camp site, no Russian,
no shelter, nothing left except for a length of rope
that had once tied the ankles together.
bastard!" He shouted, threw the rabbit down onto
the ground, ready to storm off to catch that wanker.
Once again, he'd been tricked. The Russkie couldn't
be far, in fact, how the fuck was he even going to make
thing the bastard had, that was stamina and courage,
and Dan could respect that, even if he wanted to rip
his throat out right now.
stilled. Let his eyes wander across abandoned campsite,
old bloodied rags and finally the mountains for a moment,
began to grin, then smirk, at last laughed out loud
with relief. This was it. The shit-stabber wasn't his
responsibility any more. What a bloody convenient solution.
Let him die of thirst, break down in the mountains and
crawl in the sun until the fucker was done and over
with. Dan didn't have to give a shit anymore, the Russian
was out and on his own. No Kabul, no embassy, no annoying
bastard he had to keep as prisoner.
fuck." He muttered, started to pack what few items
remained, the Dragunov rifle across his back, his own
SA-80 in his hands. He was done. That was it. No need
to ever cross paths with the fuckwit again. The bastard
would die and it wasn't his fault nor his responsibility.
grinned when he refilled his water bottle, scanned the
horizon before making his way down the mountains. He
knew his path by now, he'd get back to the villages,
then eventually into Kabul. He was long overdue a stint
of R&R in Old Blighty. Booze, laughter, mates and
thoughts of a long fucking session, ramming his cock
like a piston into a willing bird who thought he was
a demigod because he was in the Special Forces, those
memories made him quicken his step and in good time,
marching down the mountains.
the trail, Vadim crouched as he saw people. Not a patrol.
Those men didn't walk in formation, or any sense of
order. He squinted, could distinguish ammo belts crossed
over their chests, and one dragged a trail of donkeys
behind him. Low tech solution to a low tech problem.
Vadim broke off the trail into the rocks, crouched,
moving as fast as he could. He was dusty alright, what
he wore did provide some blending into the terrain,
but not much. Found a crag to press into, behind more
rocks, a formation close to the road, but he couldn't
get further away. He could only lie flat on his stomach
and hope they didn't see him.
could hear their chatter. Always chattering. His command
of their language was limited, even though he was probably
able to tell them to stop firing, lay down their arms
and surrender. That was about the extend of it.
heard them come closer. Shuffling, sounds.
Vadim. You located their camp site before they did.
heard voices before he crossed the outcrop of rocks,
knew there was a trail behind it, leading into some
of the villages closer to Kabul. He couldn't quite make
out what they were saying, realising it wasn't Pushtu,
but he'd just about scrape by in Dari. A knack for languages,
one of the things he'd never struggled with.
not let himself be seen before he could figure out who
they were. Good chances he might even know them, or
at least, they would have heard of him. 'Daan', the
infidel with the tactical knowledge.
slipped onto his knees, proceeded to crawl closer, until
he could see the men and the camp they were setting
up. Fucking beards and rags, they all looked the same.
He had to take his time to figure out who they were.
Barely a stone throw away and he let himself down onto
his stomach, sliding forwards and closer to the camp.
So close, he could hear every word.
kept his head low while searching with his hand for
leverage to pull himself closer, when he grabbed hold
of something very much unlike a rock.
Fabric. Strong bone and warmth beneath his hand.
fuck." Breathed out, lifted his head a fraction,
heart racing in those moments he knew decided over life
and death, until Dan recognised the body before him.
The bloody Russkie.
dropped his head back into the dirt and started to laugh
in silence, body shaking soundlessly with the laughter.
pinned down and laughed at was bad. The combination
especially. Vadim was sweating so hard he feared they
would smell him. Highly unlikely, but it was enough
if one of them stepped outside to take a leak. Without
a weapon, nothing he could do. He checked the other
over. One of the rifles, or the knife, and he'd have
a fighting chance. At least that. Let me at least have
a fight before they kill me.
lose it, Vadim. Don't you fucking lose it.
friends", Vadim breathed.
pulled himself closer until he lay face to face, the
indication of a shake of his head while pressed into
the dirt. "Not sure yet. If not friends, certainly
no foes," whispered quietly, "at least not
craned his neck to check the Afghanis, trying to figure
out which one of the bearded wonders was the leader,
and if he might know the fella. "Whoever they are,
you're fucked." He looked back at the Russian,
breathed the words with greatest caution, and he actually
nodded, felt the sweat run down his face. "Give
me that gun." He indicated his hip, meaning of
course the gun in the SAS guy's holster. "Only
need one bullet." Breathing hurt. Lying still hurt.
Dan whispered close to the Russian's ear, his lips almost
brushing it. Smelled the sweat, understood the reference.
"Didn't keep you alive for this. You're a cunt,
but you're my cunt."
smirked, cut short at the faint sound of helicopters
on the horizon. Still far away, but it could only mean
one thing: Hinds. Approaching from behind.
fast can you move?"
craned his neck, fucking hurt again, but he could see
them move in. Patrolling, probably. If he was really
lucky, loaded with paras. And medics.
stared at the man. The whisper set him on edge, gave
him goosebumps all over his arms, the way it felt even
in his face. "Right now? Like a fucking horse."
He glanced at the mudjas, who, over their chatter, would
soon hear the copters as well. "If I don't make
towards the Dragunov. Accurate shot at almost a mile.
nodded, looked into those pale eyes for just one moment.
With complete sincerity and lack of any anger, amusement
or aggression. "I will. I promise they won't get
his neck towards the Afghanis, then back to the terrain.
"Crawl back, use the rocks, I'll distract them."
further words, no time, and nothing needed. When it
came down to it, they were brothers; brothers of a special
kind. SAS and Spetsnaz, a family of its own. Dan slunk
forward, shouted out in a mixture of Pushtu and Dari,
"Friends! I am Dan, you heard of me? Don't shoot,
I'm your friend."
from his lying position when he had their attention,
stood up slowly, lifting the rifle high into the air.
Made sure he wasn't a threat, and at the same time,
creating much movement and distraction as he could,
stepping towards them, when one of them seemed to recognise
could be loud, the boisterous foreigner, the infidel
commander, and he was all of that right now, to perfection.
Their attention was on him, and part of his was on a
man he could not see nor hear, but whom he would shoot
in the back if he was detected. It wouldn't be murder,
it would be a mercy killing.
was crawling back like a snake, a snake that sweated
and could hear the blood thunder. In the cover of the
rocks Vadim began to crouch, half-sliding down a ravine,
then ran, ran faster than he could have believed possible
just an hour ago, running towards the distant thud-thud
of the copter, hoping against hope that the pilots would
ran out into the open, nearly fell again, felt the Dragunov
like a stare into his back. His own rifle. Don't think,
run. Dodging, mostly because he was unsteady and didn't
know exactly where he was going, waving the fucking
dust scarf. A fold of the rocks shielding him, he hoped,
from the bandit campsite.
Hinds hovered, oblivious to the camping rebels, and
Vadim could see with utter clarity how the gunner operated
the front MG. Fucking bitches, they had to recognize
his fucking uniform. He fell, then felt wind and dust
whip all around him.
Hind touched down, the most beautiful sight in the world.
The stark insect grace of the 'hunchback', as they were
affectionately known. Not a pretty copter, but few matched
it in firepower. Vadim reached out, covered his face
with his arm, breathed through the fabric.
strong hand grabbed his arm, pulled, and he almost screamed
as he was forced to stand. Paras.
Krasnorada", he said, was dragged into the machine,
where he collapsed.
was too late when the insurgents realised how close
the Hinds had come, too late for them to stop the touchdown
in the distance. Dan was pushed aside when chaos erupted
around him, and he stood still, watched the helicopters
with the Dragunov in his hands. His fingers smoothing
over the barrel, caressing the trigger.
let it relax in his hands, shouldering the weapon when
he made out a man being pulled inside the one that had
touched down. "Da-svi-da-niya, Russkie." Muttered
to himself before he turned away.