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Special Forces Chapter XIX: No Man's Land
 
 

February 1989, Kabul

"Trouble at home, Vadim Petrovich?" The Colonel handed him an official looking letter, which had been opened. They hadn't even taped it back up.

"Comrade Colonel?"

"Don't play dumb. Take it."

Vadim took the letter, opened it, saw Katya had filed for divorce. The address was in Budapest. C/o somebody he remembered. The fencer. Szandor who had been one of the few lovers he'd had. Proper ones. Good choice. Szandor would rather let himself be ripped apart than allow anything bad coming to her. Gentleman fencer, slightly effeminate, which the papers had called 'old school dandyism'. He looked up into the Colonel's face, who didn't show any expression.

"My wife filed for divorce."

"Why?" The Colonel stood, both hands still on the desk. "Tell me, Vadim Petrovich? You seemed very much the family man to me."

It's none of your fucking business, raged a small voice in Vadim's mind. You can't control everything I do, every breath I take, every decision, including whom I fuck, whom I love. I did my duty, didn't I? "There was a disagreement."

"Violence?" The Colonel seemed bemused.

Vadim inhaled sharply, and gave a nod. Once. "She was being a bitch, with all due respect, comrade Colonel. Spoilt, and unfaithful." He pressed his lips together, needed to summon memories to act the part of the wronged husband who'd lost his patience.

"Then why didn't you teach her a lesson and her lover, too?" The Colonel's eyes narrowed. "You should be resourceful enough for that." He straightened and came around the table. "To clarify, Vadim Petrovich, I find it hard to respect a man who doesn't have his family under control. It's part of his private life, and an officer with a chaotic private life loses his anchor. I can't have a man with responsibilities just float out onto the sea because of his wife." He was close enough for Vadim to smell his breath. "I believe in men controlling every aspect of their lives. That includes the wife and children."

Vadim swallowed dryly, blanked his mind so nothing of his loathing and anger showed in his eyes. "Yes, comrade Colonel."

"I expect you to clean up this mess. This doesn't reflect well on you. Or us." The Colonel gave him one of his trademark stares, then dismissed him with a motion of his hand as if he was about to bitchslap him. Vadim managed not to flinch.

He still signed the papers, once he was in his office. Who could know what the Colonel implied. Clean up his private life? He'd do that. All he had to make sure was that Katya and the children got out and were safe.

But he had to tread ever so carefully. The Colonel on his tail was the last thing he needed, and even though he'd been seeing Dan regularly - as regularly as he could make it - he worked hard to appear like a man without much of a life. One that was determined to make Colonel himself in a failing state, one so eager for the goodwill of his superiors that he had no will of his own.

Dan had told him the Baroness would help him, would organise everything for changing sides. He assumed they had to run a check on him first, and he dreaded the visit in London coming up in their search. Leaving his country only to be incarcerated for murder? The irony. He'd come close several times to confess the story, tell Dan, but Dan seemed to hope for a better future in a way that Vadim didn't manage. Britain likely didn't forgive hitmen, least of all those that had been offered a chance to defect and hadn't.

It was all hanging in the balance and in the void, not quite letting go one side, and not quite gripping onto the other side was more of a mental strain than Vadim had anticipated. He found himself staring at his paperwork when he was supposed to approve things and issue orders, and his mind only knew that once frantic dance: When? When? When?

He sneaked out when possible, manoeuvring like a chased rabbit, feeling the stare of the hunter in his mind, and met Dan to check on him while he was healing and steadily gaining strength, exchange kisses and vows, tender sex until Dan was back to strength, and Vadim felt too petrified to make any plans yet, even though Dan sometimes did. Dan told him about his home, how he'd show Vadim places he called lochs and glens, how they'd be in the highlands, and of that castle on the mountain above Edinburgh. Dread mixed with hope. Eating at his soul, his strength, while he hoped for one thing he couldn't force: mercy from the enemy.

* * *

Months moved on, during which Dan worked ceaselessly on his strength. Doing every exercise he could, only held back by the nurse on occasion, keeping him from overdoing the work on his body, until she, too, left. Time passed, through late autumn and winter, and Dan was getting more desperate every time he spoke to the Baroness, asking if there were new developments in helping the Major to defect. Nothing, though, no final decision. No 'yes', and not even the dreaded 'no'. Complications, she explained to him, refusing to elaborate on exactly what those complications were. Foreign Office, immigration, government and internal security, and whoever else might be involved in the business of offering refuge to a desperate man.

When Dan had asked for her help she had agreed readily, surprising him with her lack of questions and objections. He knew she was working on trying to get a deal for Vadim, but what did he have to offer? The question kept churning in Dan's mind, while the worries grew. Who was Vadim, of what importance was he, and what did he know? Not much, so why should Britain want him as defector, and take any risks? Vadim was nothing but a small fish in a big pond of upheavals in the Eastern European politics.

Christmas came, and Vadim told Dan that he had received and signed the divorce papers, but that was all he knew. Katya and he had talked, back in autumn, when during Vadim's R&R in Moscow. Dan never lost the niggling doubt that there was somehow more, but he gave up prying a long time ago.

Kabul was cold over New Year, as freezing a winter as it had always been and Dan's duties mostly consisted of staying inside, with the occasional foray into the outdoors, once he was fit again. Guarding the lady ambassador whenever she had dinners, soirees, matinees, and whatever other fancy shit they called those functions. He was bored, the goddamned small talk, genteel faces and polite manners around him just didn't feel right. In the beginning he had relished the luxury and the ease of his job, yet it began to wear on him, the more desperate he became for news on Vadim's status, and if he was granted political asylum before the last soldiers of the Soviet forces were pulled out of Afghanistan.

January passed and then February made its way into the year, with almost all of the troops out of the country, and still no news, despite the Baroness' endeavours.

The time had come, Dan could feel it in his blood, drilling down into his bones and rushing into his lungs. He could sense it in every cell, and taste it in the wind that blew snow and dust up his nostrils. Smelling the scent of finality, and cutting himself on the serrated, rusty blade of The End.

He didn't need to be told, nor had to read the news. He already knew the Glorious Soviet Army had pulled its tail between its legs and was leaving the country. Beaten, defeated. There were no winners in this war, and he dreaded the day Vadim received his marching orders.

* * *

Wrapping up after a too long day, Vadim crossed the mostly empty barracks. The air of frustration, of tiredness, of worn out minds and hearts was palpable, and he felt nothing, only drained. Ten years of his life. Many people dead, displaced, many conscripts forever haunted by this place, and what an extravagant waste of time and effort. Making sure the small wheels turned, learning how to wage war in a country where all the odds were staked against the invaders.

Vadim paused, stood there in front of the placard.

From the grateful Afghan people to the Soviet brothers.

What now? He had no idea. No idea at all who would be wielding power here. If there was power to be wielded, and Afghanistan not just a waste of everything. He kept the piece of paper in the front pocket.

He, too, would be gone. He could feel the unease, the shudders of tectonic shifts in Moscow. Growing unrest in Europe. The ice was thawing, and made everything treacherous. Things were moving. He had no idea where they'd send him. To Moscow, first, with the rest of his unit. And after that? There were enough places where he expected trouble.

Grateful Afghan people.

Shaking his head, he moved on, towards the place in Kabul. He was pale and silent when he closed the door behind him, bringing the February frost with him into the room.

Dan turned round, he had been in the main room, doing … nothing. Just standing, flexing his knackered hand around scissored steel, building muscles and strength. Something to do while deliberately not thinking.

"Vad…" Dan never finished his greeting. He could see it in the other's face, knew it from his stance and understood each unspoken word from every movement.

"When?"

Vadim pulled the ushanka off, began to unbutton the greatcoat. He couldn't look at Dan now, his own mind blank, a dark place with hectic movement that made no sense. Run away? Where to? Disobey? How? "Monday." He shook his head. "Already. I can't ... imagine not being here."

"No!" Dan dropped the device, swivelled around. "That's four days." Impossible, it couldn't be. There was not enough time left, they had never had enough time in the first place.

"Yes." Vadim felt defeated. It was becoming a habit. In war, in his private life, in love, too?

"Maggie is trying, I know she is, but there is something that's cropped up and that I cannot make any sense of. Something about security issues, complications, but I'm not told what it is. They are vetting still, but there is something they are worried about, something that is holding up the process. They just don't believe that you are genuine, it seems."

Vadim shook his head. He'd never been more genuine. He'd had more control with Dan's muzzle between his teeth, on his knees, hurting, expecting to be executed. This feeling was worse. He'd be destroyed by a force he couldn't see nor fight.

Dan stepped close, until his chest touched Vadim's, which made Vadim look up again. "It's because you are fucking Spetsnaz, isn't it?" Anger blazing in his eyes, fuelled by nothing but desperation. "And you're more than that, aren't you?"

"Yes." Spetsgruppa Vympel. Killers, assassins, counter-terrorists. Strike the counter. They'd kept him there to strike, every now and then, so they had a man in Kabul, kept him in waiting like a mole, used him like any other officer to do his duty. Keeping him ready in case he was expected to storm the presidential palace again. "A special detachment."

Dan nodded. He'd always known, but he didn't want to hear anymore. "You cannot leave." His voice was suddenly quiet, and he felt as if each word turned into death. "You cannot, Vadim." Shaking his head, his hands digging into the other's shoulders. "You might never return from behind the Iron Curtain, no matter how much the East is falling apart."

"I think it could be Eastern Europe next. I speak some German, remember?" Vadim's face twitched, it hurt badly to think about it, worse to accept the facts. Out in the cold. Defeated. Dan did not yet see that there was no place to run. "Fuck, hold me."

Dan's arms moved around Vadim, he had his strength back, and was holding him with all that he ever was and ever would be. "No." As if his refusal changed anything. "You've got to get out of there." Hopelessness was worse than anything, even that night in Kabul, nine years ago. Desperation, and the deepest darkness. It couldn't be, there had to be another option. "Something, anything? Vadim …" Pressing the other's body to his, two men, once enemies, now equals - lovers. "There must be something." Dan whispered, but he was no fool.

"I ... just can't think", said Vadim, fighting the despair. Not resourceful, war-weary, drained, bleached out, unable to tap the strength he'd once possessed, the anger, the cunning bastard spetsnaz seemed so far away. "Maybe ... wait. Till I get posted somewhere else. Maybe I can get to a British embassy if they've made up their minds."

"Aye, that would work." Dan couldn't think of anything else. Nothing except for desolation. It couldn't end like this. Just ... over. Vadim divorced, free from that woman and her children, away from family and anything that would keep him from being with him. "You're mine." Whispered, beginning to kiss along jaw and down the neck. "You're mine, not anyone else's." Lips, teeth nipping, tasting skin. "Not even Mother Russia's. You're mine."

Vadim groaned at the touch, the pledges again, vows, ownership, caring, claiming him when he felt detached from anything, everything, hanging in the void. Dan pulled him in. Anchored him. Secured him, like one mountain climber the other, rope and irons and nothing but the abyss if the rope failed. "It'll work. I haven't got this far to give up. Fuck Moscow."

"It will work." Dan's kisses grew more intense. "It must." Because you are mine, and you belong to me.

Because we survived and we will continue surviving.


19th February 1989

It was Sunday, the last day. The final day.

The last supper and all of that, but Dan was not a believing man. Instead he had pleaded, searched, gambled and finally found a room in the best hotel in Kabul. The last one standing throughout the war that offered a modicum of luxury. Vast bed, bathroom, proper hot running water and clean sheets.

The Baroness knew where he was, had even helped in finding the place, as covert an operation as possible.

Vadim. The end.

Dan was waiting for Vadim, like a condemned man, a prisoner in that hotel room, waiting for his execution. The morning would come too soon, and it would be over, except for the hope that somehow, someday, Vadim could make it out.

Dan sat on the bed, waiting. They had until dawn, eight precious hours.

* * *

'Don't make a mistake on the last night. We need you, Vadim Petrovich', the Colonel had said, and smiled at him, as Vadim had turned down the invitation to eat and drink. The officers left in style, getting pissed on the last night away from home. Vadim had politely declined the company. He'd be fucked if he wasted his time with those bastards.

Instead he took the other invitation. The one that would carve out his heart and make it tonight's dinner. He was aching inside, a pain that told him it was, indeed, love. He'd known it, said it, confessed to it, but now that it all was at risk again, maybe for years, maybe forever, the pain was so keen that he knew it was the real thing. Only the real thing could hurt so much.

Cheer up, he admonished himself. Don't fucking make this a funeral. It wasn't. It was a start. Rapped on the door, pulled up his shoulders, and forced his lips into a smile.

"The door's open." Dan stood up, hand hovering close to the small of his back. Despite knowing who had knocked, the pistol was never far away. He'd lived in luxury - and mostly in peace for the last two years, but old instincts died hard.

Vadim entered, carefully, closed the door after slipping in. Hadn't had any chance to shed the Soviet uniform, everything else in his room in the barracks was packed and ready to go. His books. Presents for friends and family. Photos of dead and departed comrades. Dima's address. The medic had told him to be in touch, and Vadim had sent tentative letters. Told him what was going on, while Dima served in the Caucasus. He might become a friend, over the years, if Vadim managed to keep the contact alive. Lesha was still a friend. They were in touch, because Lesha had sent the first letter and told him to answer it - now that the contact was established again, reasoned Lesha, it would be too much of a shame to let it slip again.

"I'm right here." Dan's lips curved into a smile he did not feel. He had really groomed this time. Standing in his best clothes, the string of prayer beads wound around the wrist of his fucked but functional hand. Hair washed and brushed, gleaming. Wild, still, too long as always, but he knew how much Vadim liked that. Freshly shaved, above and below, and he'd even tried not to smoke too much, so as not to taste and smell of nicotine. Food and drink stood on a table nearby, exquisite snacks, provided by the embassy, and the best vodka and whisky, together with a bottle of wine from the Baroness' personal stash.

Vadim looked over the feast and smiled. "Ah, good, I haven't eaten much today." He pulled gloves off his hands, cast them onto the nightstand, the ushanka followed, running his hand over his shorn hair. "Our two man party, Dan?"

Dan wanted to scream, or kill and maim. He was still SAS, inside, and as a soldier, he would keep going on. Until the final day, when it was all over. 'Never give up, never surrender'.

"Sure." He tried that smile again, but it threatened to falter. "We've got eight hours, I thought we'd better make the most of it."

Vadim shed the greatcoat, hung it up on a hook near the door, then paused. "Dan ... promise me one thing? Will you bite and fuck me so hard I'll still feel you in Moscow? Please?"

"Shit." Dan's bravado faltered, and with a couple of steps he crossed the distance, arms around Vadim, pressing his lips against the other's, murmuring, "Anything. Fuck, anything you want from me."

Vadim pressed him close, just kissing him so hard it hurt, but he didn't care when all he could feel in his heart was a raw, throbbing pain like from amputation. "I want ..." He forced their lips apart, placed bites on Dan's chin, down the soft flesh between throat and chin. "I want you to fuck me as hard and deep as you can." Leaving red traces, bite marks with every movement, hand going to Dan's groin, pressing him through the cloth. "I want you to tell me how it feels fucking me, and ask me if I can feel you deep enough. I want to feel you in every joint of my body, with all your power, I want to hurt, and I want you to come inside me. Then ..." He grinned, feeling the reaction his words had on Dan, the grin that of a predator, "Then I'll make you feel my pain. I'll have you, Dan, and if you scream, that's good because that's what I want to hear. I want to hear you scream my name while I press you into that mattress over there. I don't care tonight. Tonight I want all your pain, and all your lust. Do you copy, soldier?"

"Copy." Dan groaned, shuddering under touch, bites and possessive words. Insanity, and it was just what they needed. "Nine years, and you'll feel all of them tonight." He was steering towards the bed, while working on getting Vadim out of his uniform. How he hated the cloth that had become more familiar than his own uniform had ever been; how he loathed the sight. It was the uniform which would take Vadim away, that, and the Soviet people. Mother Russian was in his eyes a fucked-up aging whore, scrabbling to keep her sons and former lovers around her on her death bed.

Vadim felt the bed against the backs of his calves and grinned, helping Dan to shed the tunic and shirt, cast away everything, undershirt, watch, only leaned down to get rid of the boots, felt Dan's hands pull down his trousers, and was hard already. Fell down on the bed, moved to get in the middle of it, grinning up, stroking himself while watching Dan undress.

Dan had never got himself out of his clothes that quickly before. Tore at his shirt, threw it into a corner, belt, trousers, boots, socks, all in a jumble, discarded. His body groomed: shaved, scrubbed, smoothed, as if he were the last meal himself.

Vadim's eyes were wide, staring at Dan, his lover, bared like that, trusting him, prepared for him, how he liked him. "Come here", Vadim murmured, throat suddenly parched.

Dan crawled between Vadim's legs, one arm on either side of the other's head, looking down. "Do you know what you look like when you lie like this? Do you know what it does to me?" His cock answered his own question, but still he asked, eyes darker than ever.

"You do the same to me …" Vadim ran his fingers up Dan's arms, traced the lines of muscle that stood out, up to his pecs, down towards his abs.

"When you are like this, Vadim, I want to own you, and taste you, burrow all the way into your body until I feel so much it fucking hurts in every fibre, and your scent clings to every pore. I want to hurt you, tear you apart, fuck you until you plead and scream and bleed, and all that, because I can never get enough of you." Dan's breath caught in his throat, allowing himself to feel. Anything, and all of it. "You're in my blood, Vadim, and I want you to bleed for me again, tonight."

Vadim gave a groan, the words, the images, the promise. Bleed. Hurt. Pain. Owning. Never enough. Lust welled up, washed the pain away, if only for a moment, he knew it would return, and he knew that whatever pain Dan would give him, would help him deal with that other pain. He stared up into those manic and hurt dark eyes, and nodded. "Make me bleed. I want to taste my blood on your lips so I know I'll live."

I'll live. Vadim's eyes strayed, for a moment, towards where he'd left the pistol. Suddenly, suicide was an option. Fuck their hearts and minds out, then swear a suicide pact. It would just end. It would end on a good note, and after that, nothing. Not being apart, ever again. No suffering, no pain. He was willing to do it. He was perfectly capable of that. Then he looked back into Dan's eyes, and his hands touched the scars on his abdomen. Dan, torn up, Dan suffering, Dan, weak and human like any other casualty. He was willing to die, but he wanted Dan to live. He felt an embarrassing wetness come up in his eyes and forced it down.

Dan's hand suddenly moved, covered Vadim's hand on his abdomen, pressing closer, hard, until fingers dug into scars and flesh. His weight unbalanced, he spread his legs further, while swooping down. "You'll remember tonight." Teeth digging into soft flesh of neck and throat, right above the cigarette burn. The bite answered by a drawn-out groan. "You'll remember me."

"Always … to my last breath. Last bullet. Last thought."

Lips moving, cursing, loving, whispering, Dan had no conscious idea what he was doing, nor why, nor how. Didn't know if he was even audible. "You'll wear me on your skin, and in return I'll carry you in my flesh."

"Do it." Daring Dan, daring himself, daring the whole fucking world with this, complete freedom in destruction and pain if they could have nothing else, they'd take this. Vadim felt an odd, fierce pride at this thought.

Dan was biting, then, along jaw and throat, down to shoulders and chest. His body came down, crushing both their hands between their bodies, trapping their cocks.

Vadim moved against Dan, free hand on the last curve of his spine, above the ass, pressing him in with all his strength, and pushing up to grind against him, already dizzy with lust, stoked with pain. All he wanted was to burn to nothing. Could feel the bite marks throb and heat his skin further, knew he'd look bad, but didn't care. The Afghan sweetheart was one fierce bitch.

When Dan looked up his eyes were on fire, the almost black eyes of a madman, and the madness was nothing but pain. Pain and fear; fear of ever more pain, because this was it, the last time, the final time, no matter how hard he tried to hope. "Do you remember the first blow job? Do you remember the knife?" He came up, lifted away from the friction to sit on his heels. "Do you remember all of the last nine years?"

Vadim nodded, pressing his lips together. He'd never forget that fear, another guilty pleasure because it could still arouse him, the memory of it. Spread out for the kill, mind fucked, while Dan tried out how to drive him insane. He managed to speak, finally: "The … only thing that means anything", he whispered. "You. Our time."

Dan was reaching forward, searched beneath the pillow and pulled out his favourite knife. Old paranoid habits died hard, and sometimes they came in handy. "This time it'll be for real." He pressed the blade against his own chest, skin warming up steel, becoming a part of himself. "Spread your legs, Vadim. Open up for me."

For real? Knife? Vadim flushed, lust stronger than any fear. Whatever Dan planned. Cut him, gut him, he didn't care, was too far gone, too desperate, too much in love and lust. He nodded, hoped Dan would read from it he was ready for anything, then pushed his legs apart, brought the knees up. Hands reached up for the pillow, stretched now, chest and stomach taut. Whatever happened, he'd never regret this. Dan did it, that meant it was all good. And it wasn't about dying, not anymore. Never again.

"I don't need a whole word this time." Dan murmured hoarsely, transfixed on Vadim's body. How it lay open, as if for slaughter, trusting him with his sanity and his life. "Don't move. Whatever happens." His left hand came to rest on the inside of Vadim's thigh. Fingers splayed as they pressed into the muscle until the skin was pulled taut. "You're still my pizda, my cunt …," quiet voice, Dan's throat felt oddly constricted, "but 'cunt' means lover."

"I know." Vadim kept his eyes on the tip of the knife. He hadn't just accepted to be cut? Had he? He remembered the pain on his back, and it had been agony. Agony and a lifetime of shame. He brought his hands back down and cupped his knee in his hand, steadying it in case the pain would be too bad. Felt himself begin to sweat. "I'll be … steady."

The knife came down, once more, after nine years, the circle was closing as the blade started to cut into highly sensitive, smooth flesh. Away from the artery, but as close to cock and balls, and as much hidden from view, as Dan could manage. Razor-sharp steel cutting the first line into the flesh. Deep enough to scar, deep enough to mean it.

Vadim groaned with clenched teeth, the pain was keen, keen and clear, sharp, and it made his cock jump. He'd have expected himself faltering, but the lust was just as steady as his grip. No, it grew. Just the place, the very lethal possibility, and that close to his balls. He breathed the pain down, accepted it.

Dan could hardly breathe, his cock so hard, he felt it throbbing, close to pain. Again, the blade moved, lines filling with blood, making Vadim groan once more, pain and lust mixing in that sound, and a shudder raced through the powerful body.

Only one letter, it was all Dan needed, and it would stay with Vadim forever. "You're mine." He whispered, the last cut, blood red against pale flesh. He suddenly dove down, tongue lapping and lips moving across the Cyrillic letter that stood for all of 'mine'.

Vadim hissed, arching up, half expecting Dan to swallow him, but he didn't, instead the sucking in a more intimate place, if that was possible. His blood. Wanted that blowjob that had been part of the deal last time, and gave a grin, nodding, accepting all this without questioning - knowing what Dan had 'written'. "Yours."

"As much as I am yours." When Dan came up his lips were smeared with blood, pressing the knife into Vadim's hand. Tit for tat this time. No more battles. "Cut me."

Vadim rolled onto the side, the bite of the wound constant, but he didn't care. "I want them to see it", he murmured, grinning, and Dan simply nodded and kneeled. No protest, only complete submission. For once.

Vadim moved out from under Dan, hypnotised by his bloodied lips. Better than cum. He moved to kiss Dan's neck, the taut shoulder, and put the blade against Dan's powerful biceps. Where any uniform bore the flag. Pressing the steel in, with a moment of resistance, but the blade was fucking sharp and went slowly in, and blood began to run.

Dan hissed, eyes closing for a moment while his hands clenched into fists, tensing until every muscle in his body stood out. It hurt, but it seemed right that his cock jumped. Despite the pain of the marking, or because of it. No way back.

Vadim licked his lips, pulled the blade back, and placed the tip at the lower end of the cut, pushed it into the wound and pulled it back up, forming the English letter 'V', point towards the left elbow, while Dan shuddered, breathing harshly and fast, to deal with the pain. His blood dripped onto the bed and stained the white sheets. Vadim dipped down, licking the blood from Dan's hand, up to where the wound was.

Dan turned his head, he couldn't see, but he didn't have to ask, had felt the blade and only one letter could form a meaning with two diagonal strokes. "I wear you on my skin." He murmured, hoarsely, while watching Vadim, "and I want to fuck myself into your body. Until I can go no further, until you are so sore and used, your arsehole will never be tight again. Will never again accept another man, like you accepted me."

Vadim swallowed blood and spit, grinned with stained teeth. "Can't have anybody take me. You won me when you broke me, but that's it. Won't have it. Nobody else's bitch." He grew a touch more serious, leaned in for the kiss, mixing blood and taste again, hands digging into Dan's mane.

Teeth clashed, Dan tasted metal and blood, the kiss nothing but furious. A rage that came from a depth he'd never encountered before. Hands clawing, arms holding, then pushing, blood smearing across their bodies, staining the sheets. Two 'enemies', and both the same colour, their blood. Red - for the Soviet Union - for Britain. Red in both their flags.

Losing balance, Dan landed on top, across Vadim's body, while he kissed and bit, mauled in return. Pain burning in so many places, it helped to forget and would help to remember. "Kneel."

Vadim's eyes flared with lust, baring his teeth in part grin, part snarl, the constant pain a reminder of the knife, of the trust. He'd get bandaged up later. Clean up and bandage, and remember. It was all about remembering. It made perfect sense.

Dan couldn't speak, could only search for the lube on the bedside table. Blood made a goddamned useless lubricant, despite running down Vadim's thighs, coating his arse. They had spilled enough of it throughout their lives to know it would do nothing but turn sticky.

Vadim knelt on the bed, sat back on his heels, felt the mess trickle down his leg, and glanced at the cuts. Clean. Not gaping, but not shallow, either. Idly touched his cock, watching Dan's stretched out body, and grinned to himself. Understanding, a connection so deep nobody could sever it. Not a year or two. He'd find a way, he'd made it this far. He'd find this man.

The lube was no sooner in Dan's hand before he worked it into Vadim. Rough, no time for niceties, he was going to fuck that man as if he were invincible. Fingers coated with blood, lube, spit and precum, he knelt behind the arse that he'd possessed many times and would never get enough of. "You should see yourself."

Yes, pride of the Soviet Union, special forces, officer of the Soviet Army. Vadim bit back a laugh. Fuck all that. He'd never been more himself than feeling the blood seep into the mattress. Love and war. All the same. At least, this was his cause.

Dan murmured hoarsely, "You should know what it does to me." Vadim's hips in a vice grip, leaving fingerprints of blood. His cock poised right there, at the ring of muscle, yet nothing tense or resisting about he body beneath his hands.

Vadim closed his eyes. No mockery, Dan didn't mock him. Dan meant it, every word and every touch. He curved his back, pushed out his ass, towards the heat he craved.

Dan pressed forward, bit back a cry when he breached through and buried himself inside. Deep, deeper, until he could go no further, with Vadim shuddering and groaning at the feeling, the burn, yes, but even worse, the lust. Vadim's mind blanked when he heard Dan speak. "I feel you." Dan groaned out, pulled back, barely inside. "I fucking feel you!" Rammed forward, with all his strength, all of his pain and brutality. With all that goddamned motherfucking love and lust that was killing him now.

Vadim felt every muscle tense, his guts knot up with pain and need, lust, the pleasure to be hurt and used and needed, of finally getting what he'd wanted all day. Like coming up for air before a long dive in dark water. He would have to get all he could to make it. Intense enough to die for it, if he had to.

"Do you feel me?"

"Right to my heart", murmured Vadim, and gave another groan, willingly, wanted Dan to know just how right it was, how good it felt, and grinned with tender irony at his own thought. Dan knew. Dan could read it in everything. Clenching around him, glancing over his shoulder, grinning. A challenge, of sorts, even if it hurt, it was supposed to hurt to spike the pleasure he felt. Pushed back against Dan, inviting him for more, could feel him deep inside, that impossible, smooth heat. "Nobody else. Feels … like this", he murmured, breathless. "Nobody else can … match me. You have me. Always have. Just you."

"Nobody." Dan murmured, breathless. Pulled out, slowing, posed. "No. Never." Then lost all words, let his body lose, and fucked Vadim. Fucked him as merciless and as brutal as he had wanted. Fucked death and fear and loss out of both of them. Fucked so hard, his cock was sore and his muscles aching. Concentrated on the pain in his body, the bite of the wound, and the slickness of blood, to hold himself back. Fucked so long, until he thought there was no more oxygen left in the room and his lungs were burning, letting out sounds akin to a tortured animal.

Lust bled into pain, pain into lust, all of Vadim's strength used up just withstanding the fierce onslaught, sore, yes, hurting, drenched in sweat, taking every bit of pain and converting it into lust. Shuddering with exhaustion, Vadim couldn't think, washed away in the sensation, allowing all of this to happen, his own fierceness demanding everything Dan could give, until it was close to suffering.

"Mine, mine, mine!" Dan still hadn't touched Vadim's cock, and the strain was becoming unbearable. "You're mine. Come for me. Come. For. Me!"

"No", Vadim protested, couldn't come, not without help, didn't have the balance, and wanted something else. "I …want to … feel you …" Clenching against him, gritting his teeth against the pain as he slammed back against Dan. "Fucking do it!" He'd have Dan, alright, but on the same terms.

Vadim's answer caused a final lurch, and Dan let go, the knowledge of getting paid back, matched stride for stride, with every bit of pain and strength, crashed him over the edge and he was cursing in English and Russian when he came. Deep inside of Vadim's body, shuddering, thrusting erratically, until he wanted to break down, his whole body trembling with the exertion.

Vadim groaned, determined to remember that - how Dan sounded, what it felt like - and shifted his weight, reaching for Dan's flank as he moved, pulling away, legs shaky, whole body unsteady, needed to come, and wanted to crash. Saw Dan collapse, spreading his legs, stretched out on the bed, as he usually was.

Vadim reached for the lube, rubbed it between his hands, cool against the sweaty hot skin, and moved over to straddle Dan's thighs, rubbed the lube into the spread ass. It would hurt, very likely, even though he'd never last as long as Dan had, which was probably a small mercy.

Dan breathed into the blood stained sheets, heart still beating wildly, breath still struggling after the exertion, but his hips lifted towards Vadim, and his legs opened wider. He'd hurt like fuck, he'd just come, but he didn't care. Wanted Vadim to take him, fuck him, like he'd done it before. It had to be equal. Pain for pain, blood for blood, and their cum deep inside the other's body.

Vadim saw the hands left and right of Dan's body, and remembered something. A dark place in his heart, a memory that never failed. He took Dan's wrists, who simply allowed it, and stretched to get at the scarf, crossed the wrists behind the back, and tied them, without any protest.

Dan knew and understood, and he accepted. Nine years, and a memory that had changed him, altered the fundamental elements of himself, rearranged every molecule of his being. Things he could -, or no longer could do, and things he could not forget. And that was why he merely flexed his muscles, closed his eyes, felt his body begin to struggle, enough to make it worth Vadim's while, and his own. While breathing in the scent of blood, sweat and cum.

Vadim pushed Dan's ass cheeks apart, leaning in to enter him, lowered his weight at the same time as he thrust forward, hissing, too close, too fucking close to perfect, and paused, working hard to compose himself. Keep control, to an extent, only to make it last, not to take care of Dan. Pushing against a body that had a mind of its own, that never just accepted this, always tightened, always struggled until it finally broke in the best feeling of the world. Covering Dan as he was inside, felt Dan's hands dig into his stomach, sliding a little deeper, knew it had to hurt like a bitch when he heard Dan's scream, muffled by teeth dug into the sheets. Summoned what strength he had left, to move, fierce, deep thrusts, powerful, no accommodation there, no finding of a rhythm, just breaching and using the helpless body, like he had done back then. He shook his head, brought his lips up to Dan's ear, breathing into it as he struggled for words. "You're perfect, Dan. I can feel your pain."

Dan didn't answer, mouth filled with bloodied fabric, but his eyes were wide open. Nostrils flaring with his frantic breathing, and fuck, it hurt, hurt just like the memory, but this time for different reasons. It was what he needed, the fighting, the violent thrashing against the overpowering weight and strength. And most of all the illusion that he was helpless. Perfect. Fucking perfect, even those tears of pain, creating damp patches on the soiled bed. Everything, simply perfect.

They had come back full circle.

Vadim simply couldn't last that long, used the struggle and pain, used Dan in a way that would have been impossible otherwise, he wouldn't have allowed this. Dan would never have accepted this, a strange farewell present of sorts, another vow written on the other's body. Vadim bit into Dan's shoulder, hard, and sped up, much like a quick, frantic rape in the barracks, the same kind of breathing, the same speed and darkness, but with layers upon layers of meaning. Not just a body. He could feel Dan break underneath, like glass under a boot heel, splinter, accept against every instinct in his body, and fucked harder, and finally came, wincing with his own exhaustion and soreness, while Dan's body was shaking underneath him.

Vadim pulled out, and rolled to the side, facing Dan, reached for his head, and pulled him close, still tied up, kissed his sweaty forehead, ran his hands through the mane of wet hair, licked sweat off his temple. Reluctant to untie him.

"Oh fuck." Dan murmured, eyes closed now. Just lay, hurting, the pain was travelling through the core of his body, and yet it was right. Like it was meant to be. He didn't move, not even a twitch of a muscle, more passive than he had ever been in all those nine years; in all of his life. This was it, the last night, no more hours, no 'next time', and he simply let himself be touched and kissed, his body relaxing completely and his mind accepting. Everything. Suddenly understanding the nature of submission.

Vadim just couldn't stop touching him, idly stroked his shoulder and back as he shifted to lie as close to Dan as possible without actually embracing him - he lacked the strength to do that. They were both a mess now. For once in a nice place, and they ruined the covers. He chuckled low. "Should … get cleaned up. I guess." Thought about it, slowly, mind hardly responding to any efforts he made. "Bandages. I think. Ah, fuck."

"Hm?" Dan dragged his eyes open, blinking at Vadim. Bandages? Oh, yes, the pain. The blood. "Aye." Bandages … where the fuck … Dan's mind didn't want to do his bidding, lost in a state where every muscle, from the inside out, was completely relaxed. "Don't want to move. No bandages. Not bothered." His eyes fell shut again, ignoring the blood that was seeping out of the cut on his arm, dropping onto the sheets and adding to the mess. It would stop bleeding, soon enough. "Hold me."

Vadim gave a tired grin, shifted his cut leg - anything touching that hurt like a motherfucker - and turned to lie on his side, one arm under Dan's head, hand between his shoulder blades, the other in the small of his back, too exhausted to press, push, or pull, touching his forehead to Dan's, and breathing in his breath. "Where … will you go? How can I find you, Dan?"

"The Baroness," Dan murmured. Felt sleep dragging him under, caused by total exhaustion. "You can always find me through the Embassy." He began to mumble, could hardly string the few words coherently together. He knew he had no chance to find Vadim, and could do nothing but hope to be found. "Maggie …" Trailed off. Despite the pain and the discomfort of his position, still bound, he had fallen asleep.

Vadim smiled, dog tired himself, but there was the itch and pain from the cut, and his body seemed to think he should better be awake because he was wounded. He sighed, content and relaxed, but still awake, having Dan close like this - another memory he'd keep for the time that came after. They'd gone through months and months of being alone, but maybe it got harder the older they got. More aware of time. He wouldn't waste any. There had to be a way to get to Europe, the way that continent became restless promised plenty of disorientation, and that meant he could slip through the cracks that would open. All a question of timing, like storming a house.

He fell into a shallow rest, not quite sleep, still awareness, the constant burn on his thigh a nuisance that kept him awake. He'd walk funny indeed tomorrow. Could always claim it was his lower back that gave him trouble. He let go of Dan, rolled onto his back, stared at the ceiling, thinking, until his lids became too heavy.

No more than an hour, if that, and Dan woke out of the exhaustion. Bereft of touch, and most of all, in so much discomfort, he didn't know where all the goddamned pain came from. All over, stiffness, tried to move his arms, shoulders protesting, until the soreness in his arse brought back all of the memories. He woke with a start, trying to peer at the clock. Hardly six hours left, two of the precious eight were already gone. He tried to speak, croaked, cleared his throat laboriously. "Vadim." Nudging the other with his forehead, touching the shoulder.

Vadim turned his head, drifted closer to the surface now and was awake. He smiled, seeing Dan like this was good, the way his shoulders changed because his hands were bound. He placed his hand against Dan's face, and leaned in to kiss him. "Aye?"

"I hurt like a motherfucker." Murmured against Vadim's lips, Dan was shifting between a smile and a grin. "Hungry. Gagging for a fag. Sore. Sticky. Aching. Dirty. Stiff, and bloody trussed up like a roast chicken." Lifting his dark eyes, they seemed to ask what his Russkie was going to do about all of that.

Vadim grinned back at him. "Shower first?" He took Dan's shoulders, lifted him a bit, then pulled the pliant body with him towards the edge of the bed and helped him stand.

"Russkie, get the fucking bondage off me." Dan mildly protested, disgruntled, but he moved when prodded.

"Later." Vadim winced as the cuts on his thighs opened again and he felt more blood run down his leg. The bed looked like a battlefield without corpses, red marks and pink shadows of stains, and Vadim laughed. "I guess virginhood is proven." He shook his head. Just too bizarre.

"Very fucking funny." Dan couldn't quite stop a grin at the sight of carnage. Whatever the future would bring, they'd never forget this night and they'd carry the hours with them, carved into their skin.

Vadim led Dan towards the bathroom, stepped under the shower first, to make sure the temperature was right, then helped Dan step in as well. "Face wall."

"You do realise this would be a hell of a lot easier if you simply untied me." Grumped, yet Dan did as he was told, standing with legs braced under the spray, hissing when hot water hit the cuts on his biceps. Bowing his head, the heat began to soothe the ache in the rest of his body.

"Like to see you like this. Touch you like this." Vadim found the shower gel the hotel provided, and ran the washcloth under the water, then poured shower gel in and rubbed the cloth to build up some suds. Began to wash Dan, starting with his neck, tracing the lines of muscle, above all, feeling him, alive, warm, powerful despite his predicament. Soaped up his back, then reached around for his chest and pecs, cleaning him up.

"You kinky bastard." Dan flexed his hands and arms, the bondage pulled his shoulders back, making every muscle stand out in intriguing ways.

"But you like it, too." Vadim grinned and bit gently into Dan's shoulder. "What does this make us, then?"

A dry huff was Vadim's answer, and a minute shiver that ghosted across Dan's body. "Two kinky bastards, I guess." He kept his eyes closed beneath the curtain of his wet, dark hair. Unthinkable, all those years ago, to trust his 'enemy' with his life, and most of all his sanity.

Vadim knelt down, gritting his teeth against the pain, and cleaned up Dan's legs, cock, ass, smiling as he did that, and glanced up. "I don't think we're quite ready yet for another go, eh?"

Dan laughed, shaking his head 'no', before Vadim stood again, gave himself a quick wash, and of course didn't quite manage to keep the soapy water out of the cut. Never mind. He'd had much worse. Then stopped the water and reached for the towel, running it over Dan's body, swift and efficient - he'd towelled both Anoushka and Nikolai, nothing but tenderness in this. He'd miss the kids, despite what little time he'd actually spent with them. Missed being a father, sometimes.

"Are you going to feed me, as well?"

Vadim grinned. "I think I could live with you sucking food from my fingers." He gave a laugh, then helped Dan leave the bathtub, who lifted his brows, and took the answer as a 'yes'.

"The cuts have started bleeding again." Dan glanced at his biceps, then nodded towards Vadim's thigh. He could see a thin rivulet of water mixing with red and running down the inside of his leg. "There's a small first aid pack in my bag." Not a bergan this time, but a sports bag. Epitome of his new life and transformation from under cover soldier to an embassy's head of security. And what a brilliant head of security he was right now, Dan thought with a wry grin. Cut and cutting, cumming, raw, inside another man's body, getting fucked in return until he screamed, and, worst of all, walking around with his wrists bound. But at least no one would ever know.

Vadim nodded. "Sit down. I'll get it." He gestured towards the bed, then went to fetch the first aid pack. He wondered if Dan had brought it, maybe he'd expected things to go like this, but he sure as fuck wouldn't complain. Foresight always better than hindsight. He opened the pack and put it down near Dan. A tight bandage should be enough, no need to stitch. He'd had that much control, at least. He cleaned the wound, then covered it and bandaged it tightly, glancing at Dan to check, who was watching him work. Then washed his hands and checked on his own wound. 'Mine'. Vadim glanced at Dan, shaking his head, reaching for the disinfectant.

"You do realise that would be a hell of a lot easier if you untied me and I did it for you?" Dan grinned, shaking droplets out of his wet hair again. Too thick and long, and the water tickled its way down his back. He wriggled, grimacing, unable to scratch.

"Can't trust you not to try and give me blowjob, and I'd hate to disappoint." Vadim commented and Dan smirked, shaking his head again as if to say 'wait and see', while Vadim tensed his jaw as he cleaned the cuts, and bandaged himself. As naturally as if he'd received these in combat. "Damn inconvenient place for cuts." He remarked.

"Aye, and damn convenient for you to know it is there, but for no one else to see, unless they get up close and personal."

Vadim laughed. "I don't think that's likely. There's just you, Dan. No conscripts. Haven't, for long time now. No longer interested. I do my close combat with you these days."

Dan smiled, and the realisation hit him, that despite all he was and ever had been, he'd been fucking monogamous for years. For some reason that embarrassed the hell out of him, and he flashed a covering grin before glancing backwards, regarding the mess the bed was in. "Fucking disgrace, you better turn the covers upside down."

"Yes. I'll just flip them over." Vadim stood, fastened the bandage and headed towards the food. Salmon, lobster, tiny bites with several layers of things he didn't know or couldn't identify. He took a handful of those and went back to Dan, offering him one close to his lips. Salmon and cream cheese on a tiny bit of bread.

Dan laughed, but took the bite nevertheless, talking while chewing. "Last time I was hand-fed it was by my mother, when I was a baby." Conveniently forgetting the hospital in India, and a weakness that had gone far beyond the physical. "You could let me smoke a fag and feed me some of the wine as well. When you're done with that, your cock, please."

Vadim laughed. "First have to make sure you're not hungry."

"I always will be hungry for your cock, no matter how often I suck it." Dan grinned while Vadim poured him some wine and offered the glass, then leaned in to kiss his lips before Dan could lick the wine off. Took a sip himself, then got the packet of cigarettes from Dan's trousers, helped him smoke with a look of disgust, which amused the hell out of Dan, then went on feeding him. Every now and then alternating and teasing him with a bite only to have it himself, or pushed his thumb in with the bite, made Dan lick it, and gave him a grin when he did, and Dan laughed in return. Five hours now. Not yet. Not yet. Still time.

"Vadim?" Hunger was finally sated and the wine was down to less than a glass. "I really do want you to untie me soon." Dan smiled, slowly licking a last drop of cream off his lips. The mini strawberry tarts had been his favourite, as always. "I want to hold you."

Vadim's face grew serious, and tender, and he looked away, nodding, then stood to get around Dan and opened the knots, running his hands up to Dan's arms, avoiding the bandage, then massaged the shoulders, while Dan let his head drop, purring under the kneading hands. Vadim felt words like lumps of lead in his throat. "There. Free." He grinned and kissed Dan's neck again, clean skin, soap, hair still damp. "I guess I'll regret it."

Dan lifted his head, then let it drop all the way into his back to be able to look at Vadim. Rolling his shoulders before lifting his arms, which were stiff at first, aching, until he touched the other and pulled Vadim down with him, as he let himself fall backwards onto the bed, feet still on the floor. Cupping Vadim's face with his hands. "No, I don't think you will." Kissing before Vadim could answer. Slow and languid, as if they had all the time in the world, not merely five hours.

Vadim again felt that tightness in his throat, and kept his eyes shut, hoped Dan wouldn't notice. Funny, he thought, we've been so lucky, having this, but I can't help wanting more. More of this. More of Dan. More life. Fought the pressure and relaxed, concentrating on the tender kiss, stretched out on the bed, hands in Dan's hair. Willed himself to remember this, too, kissing, Dan's hair between his fingers. Wanted to ignore the pain, but it was there, all the time, and growing worse the more tender this became. Just don't fucking make me cry, Dan. Please don't. Hard enough as it is.

Dan's hands were everywhere, stroking Vadim's smooth skin, memorising the sensation of imprints of fingers and palms, how it felt to stroke up he short-shaved neck; the heat of Vadim's body, especially between his legs and running down his arse, between his cheeks, leading to tight, dark heat, and a yielding that would stay with him forever.

He rolled both of them onto the side after a while, face to face, never ceasing to kiss and stroke. Still on the messy bed cloths, but he couldn't bring himself to stop, because if he did, the last hours might already be over. "Hold me." He murmured after a long while, with a strained voice. The lump in his throat too thick and bloody painful. No aches nor pains could ever make him forget the intensity of his emotions. "Just fucking hold me."

Vadim reached blindly for Dan, too shaken to say much, or do much, when he just wanted to curl up like a hurt child, because that pain in his guts and heart grew worse and worse. Held Dan close, with enough strength to constrict, but Dan was strong enough easily to counter that, withstand his strength.

Dan didn't want to say anything, but the words were unstoppable. "Don't leave me. You've got to find me. I fucking love you. My Russkie, my cunt."

Again, fucking tears. Vadim shook his head, then pressed his face into the crook of Dan's shoulder, hoped to hide his weakness that way, and felt like a man condemned to die. "I will … find you. If it's the last thing I'll do, I'll come back. Nothing will stop me." Couldn't bear the thought of suicide now, or the thought of his own death in a war that seemed likely in these dark days. Clung to the hope that whatever happened, they were both well equipped to deal with anything that came. Couldn't say the word. Lapushka. Couldn't push himself over the edge.

"Aye," Dan whispered, "we'll be together." Tender kisses, now, light touches of fingers, hands, body, skin, and again and again his lips. "If you can't … then I will. I will find you. Wherever and however. Whatever it takes." Pleading, as if he could turn make-belief into reality, by just believing firmly enough. "Whatever it costs." The pain was so bad, it was worse than getting fucked in the hellhole of Kabul, and far worse than the bomb that had torn his guts. This was final, and to him it felt as if spending his last few hours before the execution. "I'll do anything for you." Dan wanted to scream and cry, and tried so hard to concentrate on another sensation instead: lust. At least it lust would prove they were still alive, and still together. "Anything."

Vadim smiled, a sad, very tender smile. "But we'll make it both. This … this is just more of same. Not different. Just away from here. We will find place that's not Afghanistan. Just little while now." Ran his fingers down Dan's face, and forced that smile to stay. "Best time in my life - everything's just noise. Noise and smoke. I'd die for you, Dan. No questions asked."

"No, Vadim. No." Dan's dark eyes were unforgivingly intense. "You must not die for me, not ever. You must live for me, you understand?" His fingertips touched Vadim's, that were resting on his face. "Give me your word, you will live for me, whatever happens. Even if I never see you again. I need to believe that somewhere, out there, you are alive."

Vadim nodded. "Aye. I'll live. You … take care, too. Whatever happens." Just in case there's a war, a meltdown, if the earth just grinds to a halt and we are all hurled into space. Shook his head, trying again, with not much success, to suppress the emotion. No way out. No suicide. He'd just have to live off hope.

"I will. I give you my word, whatever happens. I'll live." Dan took a deep breath before he managed to smile. It felt like lines being etched into his face with acid, but he forced a smile instead of tears and this goddamned pain. "And now, Vadim, I want to fuck you once more. I know you're sore, I know it'll hurt, but I want you, one last time, and then, finally, I'll suck you off, because I need to take your taste with me."

Vadim wasn't sure he'd be able to get hard, but it was fair enough. The pain would be a good antidote again. "Just careful with the bandage", he murmured, and reached for the lube when Dan nodded. "And let's get rid of the covers."

They got up, Dan standing and watching as Vadim pulled the messed-up covers free, and tossed them on the ground, revealing the mattress underneath. No blood. Both of them got back onto the bed, facing each other. Dan on his side, stroking Vadim's chest, who squirted lube into his hand, plenty of it, pulled the good leg up and pushed a couple lubed-up fingers inside. Oh fuck, that would hurt. Vadim grinned at Dan with wry humour, then kissed his chest, moved downwards, and ran his lips to Dan's cock, taking it between his lips, another thing he'd miss, oddly enough, mostly what it did to Dan, the way he breathed.

Dan's hand dropped, stroking the short hair, while his eyes closed, determined to remember every little thing. The way Vadim's lips felt, closing around his cock and sliding down, the way the teeth scraped lightly. How he breathed in and pushed himself further down, until he could feel his cock against the back of the other's throat. He was getting hard rapidly, despite the pain inside and out. Desperation did that, and the knowledge of time being against them. Opening his eyes, Dan stared at the sight for a while, took in movement, head, lips and face, until his breath became ragged, knowing he couldn't go any further or he wouldn't be able to do what he needed to. "Lie on your side." Murmured hoarsely, "like you did in the cave."

Vadim glanced up, and reluctantly released the cock. He wasn't quite soft anymore, and he hoped what Dan would do would get him fully there. "Okay." He turned his back, reached behind him and twisted his neck to get a kiss as Dan moved up closer behind him. This gave Dan full control, but Vadim didn't mind just now. Just doing this would be good, if he'd come or not didn't actually matter all that much. Or whether it hurt. The taste still on his lips, the memory against the back of his throat. It felt like carefully stocking a museum he'd be able to wander through if he only did this well enough.

If anything, Dan was even more careful than the first time. Slower, working with minute movements. Lying behind Vadim, on his right, avoiding the cut on his biceps. His chest touched Vadim's back, and their legs were moulded close. With the cut leg angled away, Dan tried not to touch the bandage, yet their bodies were so close, not a finger could move between them. "I remember when I first looked at you." Dan murmured, hardly above a whisper, as he eased his cock against the sore muscle, moved no more than fraction, the most gentle rocking movement, as tender as his hands and his lips that kissed the back of Vadim's head. "Really looked at you." He didn't know why he had to talk, but all those words wanted to come out and be said. It was his very last chance.

Vadim relaxed despite the pain, felt Dan inside, sore, aching, stretching him again, but it was all welcome, and the slow deliberate tenderness did strike a chord and made him harder. Didn't know what time Dan was talking about, probably the time in the mountains, when he'd been tortured, helpless, at the mercy of a man who didn't give any mercy, no quarter.

"I hated you." Dan's gentle movements continued, as slow and tender as if Vadim prepared him for his fist. "You were so goddamned perfect and yet so flawed."

"Flawed … is one … way of putting it", murmured Vadim. Was he still the same man? The same cunning, brutal spetsnaz who'd raped just for the rush of it, the man who kept a core of steel even under pressure. Didn't feel like it. He felt he was pretending, nothing but pretending to be that, when this was the thing he wanted to be. Just a man.

Softly chuckling, the sound hurt the back of Dan's throat and burnt in his eyes. "I thought I was better than you." Closing his eyes, he felt too much, was tearing himself open with all of this, but nine years of heaven and hell deserved all his pain. "How wrong I was." Whispered, as he entered further and further, taking more time than ever before. "Without you, I would not be myself anymore, not even alive."

Vadim glanced over his shoulder, reached behind him to touch Dan's neck. "I wanted you even then. I wanted you all the time. And I was … curious. I tried to … get into your mind, and let you in instead. Not good, and best thing I've done in this whole war."

"Best thing I've done all my life." Deeper and deeper, no matter how slowly, until Dan could finally feel himself once more, for the last time, embedded deeply within Vadim's body. He began to rock, while dropping his hand to Vadim's cock, stroking as unhurriedly as his hips were moving. Time was stretching, and he dragged out every remaining second, staying within low simmering lust, while Vadim's breath shifted, felt more pressed, part pain, part desire.

"I'm not the same man anymore." Dan murmured, "Without you I'd probably be a drunken wanker, gibbering on about past glory, security guard in a parking lot, and drinking myself to death."

"Dan …" Vadim leaned into the other's body, watched Dan stroke him, felt desire grow stronger than the pain, barely, twisted his neck again, but could only catch a glimpse of Dan, as close as he was. "Just while longer, and I'll be different, too. I'll no longer be … that soldier. No lies."

"You already are different." Dan's voice was getting husky, his movements increasing a mere fraction. Hand and cock, one an extension of the other. Inside and out of Vadim's body, that body he wanted so much. "You're just a man." He fucked as gently and tender as he could, all of his love and all of his lust pouring into every minute thrust and each stroke. "And I so very fucking much love that man."

Vadim felt himself tighten up, body finally translating the touches and dealing with the pain, lust grew, and he groaned, wanting nothing more in the world but this to last, this tenderness, Dan talking. The illusion that there was no uniform, no marching order, he'd be here and that was the end of it. And happily ever after. "And I love … you." In Russian. "You're killing me with this ..." he gave a near-silent laugh. "Difficult to … stand. Endure …" Another groan, and he closed his eyes.

"Difficult to part." Dan groaned, he was speeding up a little, but his stroking remained slow. Couldn't let Vadim come. "Most difficult … ever." He was quiet, then, concentrating on nothing but his feelings. Every sensation, no matter how small or big. Imprinting them into his memory, if he had to feed from them for years to come, he would. Finding partners for sex, whores perhaps, but never lovers. No one like Vadim, never again. He loved, and he was goddamned loyal, couldn't help this sense of utter loyalty.

It took him a long time to build up his lust, deliberately so, until he finally allowed himself to let go, all the way murmuring words that made no sense but were full of meaning. Love and need, and not a moment of embarrassment that he might behave like a sissy and not like a man. He knew who and what he was, and he also knew that he loved Vadim and would never stop, not as long as he lived. When he came, it was with a low sound of pain or lust, as his body was gripped by Vadim's and his own was wrapped around the other.

Vadim was desperate when Dan finally came, his body in agony, but he didn't care, relished in the closeness, the lust Dan found in his body and fanned, fanned, kept him there again, on the edge. Releasing it would be a mercy in many ways. As if Dan tried to make a point, a point that it was him who did this, and that was what he wanted. He reached behind and touched the other's flank, stroking the sweaty skin, while lust still held him like the pain. They fused, whirled in his mind and body, mixed up, impossible to say which was which. An intense pressure and ache. He turned a little, sought Dan's lips, kissed him again, placed his hand on the hand around his cock, stroked it, the strong, swollen veins of Dan's hand, traced the line of the wrist. Body tensing, but couldn't shed the pressure, not like this, not that easily. "Help me cum."

"Not like this." Dan was still breathing heavily, shuddering with the aftershocks, when he gently swatted Vadim's hand away. Easing himself out of the much abused body, as careful as he could, he rolled Vadim over to lie on his back, while he once more knelt on the bed, on all fours, between the other's legs. "I told you I want to taste you." He smiled. One last time. Taking that cock in his hand, for a moment marvelling at the perfection of girth and length, the way the veins stood out, the precum glistened on the swollen head and the balls nestled heavy below. "Even your cock is fucking perfect." Murmured, before he lapped at the slit, concentrated, fully focussed, and doing nothing but teasing and coaxing, before slowly sucking inside, creating a vacuum of friction and wet heat, while his tongue worked beneath the ridge and along the length. He so loved giving head, they could stamp 'cocksucker' on his forehead and he'd simply laugh, because that's what he was, addicted to the smooth hardness down his throat, tasting cum, and sucking Vadim's cock.

"Ah, you … yes." Vadim's hands dug into the mattress, then found Dan's shoulders and squeezed them. Moving up into the heat, eyes closed, trying to get deeper and faster, because now that the pain had subsided and had become a dull throbbing, lust grew out of all proportion. He pushed up, feeling the cut keenly as he did. "Please. This is … so good", he murmured, mindless.

Dan was careful not to touch the bandage, while his hands moved up the shaft, then replaced with his lips as he breathed in sharply, pushing himself down as far as he could, concentrating on ignoring all reflexes, while breathing in the musky scent, the essence of Vadim. Kneading his balls, working on flesh and skin, while increasing speed and suction. He was merciless, knowing just what to do, and how to do it. Knowing Vadim inside and out, and playing his body like a most exquisite instrument. Come for me, he thought, let me taste you, while he kept his eyes open, taking in every sight and sound, never to forget those words. Please, and good, and he thought, I fucking love you, I want to stay like this forever, and the parting will kill me in a few short hours.

Vadim lost all coherence, Dan down on his cock, working him like that, and he came fiercely, despite his body's exhaustion, but there was no way he could resist, like a switch that was being flicked, a trigger squeezed, and he came, loudly, groaning and pleading, every muscle in his body knotting up and the pain only pushed him deeper. Stars, blackness, tunnel vision, the orgasm felt like tearing, and he collapsed back on the bed, feeling Dan swallow, and suck, drain him like he did. Reaching idly for Dan's head, running his fingers through the damp hair, lips half open, lids heavy, looking down at him.

Dan came back up, licking the spent cock clean. Lingering for a moment, until he lifted his head and smiled at Vadim. "I'll never forget that sight." Vadim sated and spent, completely relaxed: Vadim how he rarely was.

"What … sight?" Vadim wasn't even curious, just speaking the first thing he thought.

"You look well fucked."

"Oh. That."

Dan moved up, covering the other's body with his own. Both strong, both tall, both men. One blond and heavily muscular, the other dark and with the strength of a runner. Just hold me, Dan thought, but he didn't say it, instead lay on the body and wrapped his arms and legs around it. With every bit of himself and with all his strength, as if he refused to ever let go.

Vadim brought his arms up, with effort, and splayed both hands on Dan's back, feeling him breathe. The weight was good, protecting and reassuring, sharing warmth and everything they had left. Vadim's eyes closed, and he slipped off to sleep, with the odd feeling all would be good. At least for a little while longer.

Dan drifted off into sleep as well, allowing himself the luxury of pretence: all would be well, he would wake up with Vadim in the morning, they would not have to get up at dawn, in a mere three hours, to part ways without knowing if they ever met again.

The war had kept them together; peace was tearing them apart.

* * *

Vadim woke with a little start. Past five. He reached for the watch. Yes. Far later than he usually got up, but enough time. He stretched, Dan was still on top, had slept there, and Vadim reached up to touch the sleeping face, then rolled over, getting Dan on the mattress and his body out from under him. Groaning, Vadim got up, sore, and in pain from the cut, but that was what he'd wanted, and exactly this way.

He vanished into the bathroom to piss, then had a quick shower with the bandaged leg still outside the bathtub, and made a mess with the water going everywhere. He shook his head, couldn't get angry or worked up in any way. Towelled himself down, left the wound alone, and headed back into the hotel room to find Dan sitting on the bed, rubbing his eyes. Vadim found the fucking uniform - all of the pieces, anyway, then began to dress. He wasn't hungry, but had a few slices of left over roast beef.

Dan was watching Vadim, still hadn't said a word. Determined to take in every last view of that body, but he didn't try to touch, knowing it would break his resolve and whatever else he had managed to build up around him. Wondering idly if this was what millions of women had felt like, in all those uncountable wars, when their lovers, partners, and husbands had left for the front. Cursing himself for that stupid thought and shaking his head with a wry grin before he got off the bed, padding over to the remains of the food.

"Your flight's today, aye?" Stuffing random food into his mouth, just something - anything to keep him going. It all tasted like ashes anyway. Finding his trousers, he jumped on one leg while getting into it, and winced. Fuck, his arse would hurt for a long time, but it was exactly what he had wanted.

"Yes. I have enough time to get to the airport. The luggage should already be there." Vadim closed the buttons of the tunic, struggling a little with the cuffs, too distracted by thoughts. "I'll get picked up by a driver at a different place. I have enough time to get there." He straightened a bit, still felt Dan, which would make the long flight interesting at best. "In Moscow, I'll live at my father's place for a couple days, until I know what my next orders are." He paused, looked at Dan, who nodded while sitting back on the bed, pulling on socks and tying his boots.

Vadim found the peaked cap, and turned it in his hands. "I'll just leave, Dan. I can't … stay longer, can't do it, here." Tapping his chest with the hat. "I said all I needed to say, and I meant it all. It's no different from other times, yes?"

"I understand." Dan nodded. He did, no mere lip service, because it started to hurt so much, all he wanted was to let go of the pain and cry, but he'd be fucked if he allowed himself that. Gathering knife and pistol to himself, he stashed them where they usually lived on his body before taking hold of his t-shirt. Kabul in winter was cold, but he felt reluctant to start piling the layers onto his body. Not just yet, not while Vadim was still close.

Dan straightened, stood, in jeans, boots, weapons and scars, the quintessence of himself. "I will see you again, Vadim. We will meet." Trying to convince himself as he stepped closer, touching the other's face. Fingertips, no more, or he'd break down. Vadim's jaw muscles tensed under the touch, and his hand covered Dan's, held it there, as he inclined his head and kissed Dan's wrist.

"We will be together, come what may."

"Yes, we will. Just little more patience." Vadim suddenly smiled. "No: A little more patience." He took Dan's hand down and pressed it with both of his. "And thank you for the breakfast and the company." Another firm pressing of Dan's hand, who tried to smile, then Vadim released him, took the greatcoat off its hook and opened the door. Cast a quick glance back, despite his best intentions, and gave Dan another of those bright smiles, while his eyes swam, then turned and was out of the door.

That was it, and Dan let go the moment the door closed behind him. For once, simply giving up and giving in, allowing the tears to flow that he'd been holding back with all his will. Didn't care he was crying while slipping the t-shirt over his head, didn't give a damn that he was an utter fool to step to the window, pushing the curtains apart. Just one last glance, hurting himself with this, but he had to. One last view of the man as he vanished down the deserted street. Standing at the window, Dan didn't want Vadim to know, wouldn't make it harder on the other, and thus opened it quietly, leaning out to be able to look down onto the street. Any moment now, and the tall figure would appear, to walk away.

Vadim was half blind with tears, found his way by outlines and blotches of colour, managed to slip the coat on while walking briskly, as if speed could help him escape the pull of gravity. The lobby was empty. Nobody there. Good. Nobody would see him, then.

He stepped outside, paused for a moment to cross the road, when he heard a voice: "Vadim Petrovich?" He turned, and there were two men, no, comrades, Spetsnaz, knew them from the barracks, then saw the pistols in their hands. Heard a car speed up, turn the corner from the side alley, and screeching brakes, doors opened, and something hit him on the head, which blurred his mind and made his body go powerless, but not quite unconscious. He was half pushed, half pulled into the car, where somebody held a gun to his forehead and somebody else covered his head with a bag, and then his hands were tied. "You're going home, traitor", a voice murmured close to his face, then something hit him against the temple, and the lights went out.

Up in the room, Dan saw Vadim come out of the hotel, pausing, turning to face something he could not quite see. Then suddenly, a flash of motion, car, men, and someone hitting Vadim and Dan clung to the window frame, leaned out and yelled as if he could stop them. "No!" He witnessed how the great body went limp, forced into the car. Death-grip on metal as he almost jumped out of that goddamned window if it didn't mean breaking his neck. "No! Vadim!" As if he could stop the horror, "Vadim!"

The car sped off and Dan's heart was racing, adrenaline speeding through his body and mind, frantically trying to make sense of it all. He hadn't been able to understand a word, but the car, those men, just like Vadim, and Vadim was more than a soldier and then … KGB! Dan pushed himself away from the window, ducked his head by instinct. Windows, door, coffins and targets. Fuck, how had they known, and if they were KGB, then … he couldn't finish the thought when the sound of wood crashing tore through the silence.

Dan's instincts still worked, once special forces, forever SAS, threw himself to the side and to the floor, behind the bed, as the door was kicked in. Too much adrenaline to notice any pain anymore, and the pistol was already in his hand. Twelve shots. No more. The other clips were in his bag.

Russian orders, "get him!" from the door, and an AK bellowed, tearing chunks out of walls, carpet and floorboards, as heavy steps sounded. "Come out, you bastard!" somebody shouted, both advancing men wore the full kit of spetsnaz, much like on the day when Vadim had stormed the house Dan had protected.

Dan had crawled under the bed, thankful for the valance that covered the gap, robbing forward on his belly. Not away from them, but closer. Fucking spetsnaz, Vympel, so this was a big thing, then, they were out to kill him. The KGB meant it this time. His only chance was going to get up close - and nothing but personal.

He pulled the knife out of its sheath at the small of his back, slipped it between his teeth. He'd need his left hand, fucked, but functional. Closer then, they were searching the room, Dan only had seconds before they realised he wasn't in the bathroom nor wardrobe, but under the bed. Seconds, and he'd pray if he were a believing man. Even so, one of the men came closer to the bed, Dan could see his ankle. Snatched at it, left hand pulling hard to get him off balance, in the same motion catapulting himself forward, from under the bed, sliding between the soldier's legs. Turned onto his back, firing his pistol upwards and into the man. Once, twice to make sure, couldn't waste anymore bullets, and the soldier had only time to scream, before the bullets tore open his guts all the way to his brain.

The AK sounded in the bathroom. The shower curtain died, but at the sound of shooting from the main room, the soldier turned.

Dan rolled to the side, away from the falling body, blood was splattering all over him, before he wrenched the AK out of the dying man's hand and got back onto his belly, aiming at the bathroom door. Knife still between his teeth, at the ready, but he didn't need it for the second man, who didn't know what hit him when Dan let lose a round, the Kalashnikov shredding the body apart, that fell forward amidst choking groans.

Downstairs, more soldiers made their way up. They hadn't been quite ready to storm when their mark had left the building. Now, everybody was running to catch up with the time plan, coordinated in person by the Colonel.

Dan got up onto his knees, wiping blood from his eyes that was blurring his vision. Turned, reached for his bag that was close, cut it open with the knife and pulled out a couple more clips. Stashed knife and ammo on his body, still on his knees, then crawled to the first corpse, grabbed the man's pistol. Two pistols, now, both in his waistband, AK in his hand, and the second AK slung over his shoulder. Fuck the weight, he'd need all he could get, when he heard the sound of boots running up the stairs.

Dan stood, looked left and right, judging his chances, had to find the best way out in split seconds. Door: would be crowded with more bastards. Window: too high. Bathroom: no window, no exit. His eyes fell onto the table, food, silver plate and bottles ripped into shreds by the bullets, but the long tablecloth still draped all the way to the floor. A cold grin ghosted across his face and he leapt towards it, crawled beneath. Directly opposite to the door, he could hear the Russian orders and understood every word. He knew he had to be faster than the Soviet arseholes, but he'd overcome one spetsnaz once, nine years ago, he'd nail the rest of those fuckers. Aiming through a couple of bulletholes in the cloth, he sat absolutely still, blood rushing in his ears, ready to open fire the moment they turned around the corner and walked through the door. 'Vertical coffin' Vadim had called it, he'd show them the meaning today.

The pained breathing of one of the downed men turned into a death rattle while more boots were heard from outside, advancing, then slowing near the open door. A few shots were fired into the empty room, before they advanced again. The first soldier became visible, then another, holding fire as the room seemed to be empty. Heads turning, searching, Kalashnikovs at the ready, until they spotted the legs of a comrade sticking out of the bathroom. One of the men turned, about to shout for the medic.

Closer, come closer, Dan thought, all the time wary of a smoke grenade. Seemed they either underestimated him, or didn't expect a single man to put up that much resistance. The moment he saw the soldier open his mouth, he let go of the trigger, firing round after round into the advancing men, until the screams of the wounded and dying alerted the ones behind. No more than split seconds, stretched out in slow motion. That was it. He'd given himself a small advantage of time. Blood splattering across the room in a macabre echo of hours ago, but they'd know now that he wasn't that easy to get.

He could hear the orders, knew the goddamned smoke grenade would be next, and short of suffocating, or dying, disorientated, he had to get out of there. The room was a trap, he had to find a getaway. The next wave of spetsnaz were still a few yards away, he could hear their boots, when the idea clicked into place. Threw the table off him, sprinting towards the bodies of the fallen, frantically searching their belts. There! Got it, one of the men, perhaps a junior officer, carried a couple of hand grenades. Still gurgling with rattling breaths, but unable to stop Dan fleecing his body.

Pulling off the pin, Dan stood right in the centre of the room, waiting. One, two more breaths, he heard them coming, but he had to time it just right. Counted, lobbed the grenade towards the door, out into the corridor, the moment the soldiers arrived. Throwing himself behind the bed, he pulled the covers with him, curled up in a ball in the very corner, wedged between bed, night table and wall, protecting his body, head, ears and waiting for the explosion.

The sound was deafening, ringing in Dan's ears, as the world lost all sound and the grenade tore the men apart. Somebody turned heel, wounded, but alive, trying to get away from the carnage, warn the others, while screaming men were begging for a medic.

Dan could hardly hear anything after the explosion, throwing the duvet off him, that had kept the worst from his ears. Knew he was bruised, the rifles heavy, but he wasn't going to let go of them, not yet. Had no idea what was still waiting for him. His body in working order, he jumped out of the corner and ran towards the door, spotting the wounded soldier trying to run away. Aiming roughly with the AK, yelling towards the back of the man, in Russian, "Go to hell!" before opening fire and mowing him down.

The corridor, he had to get out of there, it was nothing but a long narrow tunnel, leading towards the target: him. Sprinting along, he realised they had to have taken the whole hotel, there was no one else, no staff, no customers, no noise except Russian orders and sounds of boots and men. Why the hell had they never noticed. As if he didn't know.

He reached the stair case, looked around for a fire exit, but no sign, only another corridor, breaking off in a T from the first. No time, they'd only be busy with the wounded for a short while, and he had no idea how many soldiers were still downstairs. How many did they bother to send after a single man? A part of him would be sickeningly proud at the sheer number they'd already thrown at him, but the most part just wanted to stay alive.

Stairs, no, too dangerous. Elevator? Insane, wouldn't work anyway. Back stairs? No idea where the fuck they were and he bet they'd wait for him there. Suddenly remembered something. The corridor that went off from the one he stood in - the street was in front of the room they'd stayed in, and there had been an extension to the left. He was sure he remembered a flat roof, one level below. No more time to speculate, when he heard the sound of more boots coming closer, he had to take the risk.

Dan ran around the corner into the second corridor. He could hear shouting in his back. Turning sideways, he opened fire while running, covering his back. Swivelling the AK around when he reached the middle of the hallway, Dan smashed one of the doors in with its butt, throwing himself into the room. Empty, just as expected, and the window right across.

He had no more than a few seconds, crossed the room by running over the top of the bed that stood right in the middle, against the wall, and tried to tear the window open. The flat roof directly beneath, no more than three yards. He'd been right, but the damned window wouldn't budge, locked, no key anywhere. He could hear the soldiers coming closer, and smashed the glass with the rifle, trying to make as big a gap as possible in as short a time.

Dan jumped through the broken glass the moment three of the soldiers turned the corner of the corridor, crying out when he caught his leg on one of the remaining razor sharp edges, which tore his jeans open, slicing into his thigh. Landing on both feet, Dan rolled forwards with the impact, but kept the weapons on his body. Checked, moved, realised his leg functioned and whatever the fuck had cut him was superficial. Getting back up, breathless, he started to run across the roof top. In full view, no cover, if he wasn't going to make it in time, he was the perfect target, like a rabbit in an open field.

Sprinting, he glanced backwards, saw men appearing at the window, shouting orders, and he let his AK lose once more, firing roughly into their direction, until the magazine ran out and he threw the weapon away, yanking the second one off his shoulders.

He was desperate, needed an escape, no matter what, when he spotted a roof light. Prayed it was one of the utility rooms, anything that would lead outside, just not the back door where he was betting they waited for him. Kicking the glass in with his boots, the whole frame splintered when the wood gave, leaving a hole just big enough for him to pass through. Peered down, saw nothing moving below, had to take the risk and jumped, feet first, while holding the AK over his head. He landed on tiles below, in the middle of a steel furnished kitchen.

Silence, nothing but the sound of his harsh breathing and the aftershocks of the deafening blast in his ears. Three exits from that place, but not a single window, only fluorescent light and the ceiling window. Shit. Dan knew he had no more but mere seconds, the whole chase hadn't taken longer than a few minutes since they'd kicked in the door, but he had no clue which path to take. Calculated the way he'd come in, the light, angle of the room, and … had to take his chance. Running through the doorway to his right, rifle in firing position, he sprinted along the dark passageway towards a steel door. Hoping the goddamned thing was unlocked, but when he tried the handle, slamming his body weight against it, and even kicking a couple of times with the heel of his boot, the damned thing would not budge.

"Fuck!" Dan spit out, breathless and raging inside. If he wasn't getting out of there in the next few minutes he was fucked. He expected it to be chaos upstairs. They'd be extracting the wounded and treat the casualties, but he knew they had seen him running across the roof, and he had no idea if he had killed any of the soldiers at the window, nor if they had seen him jump through the roof opening.

If he was going to try and shoot himself free he'd make such a racket, he'd be met by a platoon of spetsnaz before he could say "you're fucked". No choice, and Dan ran all the way back again, straight into the kitchen, to try the next corridor.

"Looking for a way out?" The voice was calm and mocking, coming from somewhere between the surfaces of steel. English words. Whoever had spoken had very likely already changed positions - and definitely kept himself covered. "Maybe to tell the rest of the CIA that their agent is fucked?"

Shit! Dan threw himself behind a cluster of gas hobs, right in the middle of the kitchen. Cowering behind the steel wall, he strained his ears to try and make out where the voice came from. CIA? Agent … fuck. It couldn't …. No. The AK was unwieldy in this place, so he slung it onto his back and slipped one of the Russian pistols into his hand. On his knees, peering around the corner. Whoever was there seemed to play a game that meant the rest of the soldiers would be kept at bay for a while. One man, Dan wagered, at least for now.

"How did you figure I'd be here?" Keep the bastard talking.

"I can read a trail of blood. It's what wolves do, after all." A pause, and shifting, maybe the faint sound of military boots. "It will be a pleasure to … meet you." Unveiled thread. "We did not have the pleasure, not in all those years that you've been using one of my own men against me. This, I take personally."

Blood. Fuck! Dan glanced at his leg. Of course, the jump, the smashed window. It was still bleeding now. "What makes you think I used one of your men?" Playing dumb, while he shifted and slid backwards again, leaning with his back against the steel wall, breathing heavily while trying to keep his voice level. Searching with his eyes for anything he could use to his advantage. A mirrored surface, a reflection somewhere, or anything else to give the position away.

"I know it. I know you caught one of my men up there in the mountains and made him your spy. You turned one of my own officers against me, against the Soviet Army, and against the Soviet Union." A hint of anger crept into the voice.

"Really?" Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Dan's blood was running cold, despite his feigned surprise. He suddenly felt everything but like a well-honed machine, bent on survival. On the contrary, he had to battle a sudden leaden weakness. Vadim … how long had they known. "And what the fuck makes you think I have anything to do with the CIA?" Dan moved slowly, until he sat on his heels, trying to reach the large, polished colander hanging above, to change its angle.

"Scots Highland accent … That makes you British, and you are in bed with the Americans. Interesting set-up. You don't have the looks for a honey trap."

Dan laughed, a short-sharp stab of a sound, while horror slammed into his guts. 'Honey-trap', how would that bastard know. "I just killed at least a dozen of your men. What makes you think I'm a honey trap, bastard." He had managed to touch the colander, moving it ever so slowly to try and get a glimpse of the man.

Movement, the creaking of combat boots, soles on the tiles. The other man kept moving. "Maybe the sexual acrobatics … honey traps better know their business. I do wonder how you worked Krasnorada out before we did … I guess that must have happened when you tortured him. A man can become very strange when he is tortured. I cut him some slack - I gave him some freedom after that. His heroic escape. And he's been meeting you all the time. What did you offer him? Money? Freedom? Or just sex?"

Dan shuddered, those words cut deep. How did they know? They'd been careful, they'd vetted every place they'd ever stayed in, and they … shit. What the hell had he expected. Getting away with nine years of secrets? Dan tried to concentrate on nothing but survival, but inwardly he was losing it. Not for himself, but for Vadim. The worst that could happen to him was to die. It was part of his occupational hazard, but the worst that could happen to Vadim was - what exactly?

"What the hell makes you think we even had sex." Keep talking, just keep talking, and give me more information, as much as I can get. Who the fuck was that guy. Dan frowned, then thought he'd caught a glimpse of movement, calculated the angle, when it suddenly hit him. Vadim had mentioned one man, several times, but always in passing. "What indeed, Colonel."

"Clever boy. I dropped enough hints for you, then. To satisfy your curiosity …" A faint shift in tone belied it was nothing about satisfying Dan, but merely to drive a point home. "I started putting the extraction together while you were swallowing his cock. This hotel is one of the places where certain parties have access to certain methods of surveillance. You shot a proper porn movie, complete with dialogue. I could offer you a copy, but dead men don't really watch porn, do they?"

The horror hit Dan with a punch and kick to the guts, he froze for a moment, unable to move when the full realisation hit him. They knew everything. They had proof. Wherever the camera had been hidden, they'd be extracting it right now, along with the injured survivors and the corpses. He couldn't breathe, felt as if steel bands had laid themselves across his ribcage, constricting his throat with a collar of spikes and chains. The hotel. His fault. He should have never … and now they knew.

Dan was trying to force himself to act, do something, move, get the survival instinct to kick in, until finally one thought managed to tear him back out of his frozen state. Vadim. If he was going to have any chance at all, then it was Dan. And now that he knew, he had found a handle on that Colonel, a possible way to crack him and make a mistake. He was certain he had seen a shadow move towards one corner of the room, and he gently let go of the colander, sliding silently down and creeping towards the edge while talking. It took all his willpower to force his voice to comply into a semblance of carelessness. "I bet you enjoyed watching, didn't you?" Soundlessly moving the rifle from across his shoulder, placing it on the ground. He had to be fast and the cumbersome weapon would be nothing but a hindrance.

"Makes me wonder, what did you imagine? Wanting to jerk off while watching, imagining to be the one who got fucked or who did the fucking?" Dan's hand slid to the knife in the small of his back, silently moved its position to the front with no more than a rustle, tacking it down carefully. "Ever tasted a man's cum?"

Silence. A silence rife with anger. Then: "I think your 'friend' will get quite enough of action where he's going." Shifting, then pausing. Maybe the Colonel had seen a motion, too. "But of course, you had what you wanted. Information. Now that the war is over, Krasnorada is nothing but collateral. He fed you information in return for … what? What made him a traitor? What makes a man forget his country?"

Dan was shaking with rage for a moment, but this time he got himself under control straight away. The movement, he had been right, it was over there in the corner. "Sex, Colonel. Lust." Dan was playing the game now, retaliated to being taunted. "But what would you know about it. Still pounding the shrivelled old wife? Somewhere in the Russian peasant belt? Prematurely aged with neglect and poverty, aye?" Another sound was his cue, and Dan threw himself onto the tiled floor, sliding along on his belly, while firing the pistol towards the corner, until he hit the next range, metal sinks this time. Crouching behind them, closer to the exit. Closer to the bastard.

Movement again, shifting, cloth, leather. "You'll run out of bullets. I can't hear you reload", said the Colonel, voice betraying an amount of stress or pain. It wasn't fear. "Do you want to see me? Fight me? I bet you want to cut my throat. If only you could work out how … You destroyed a good soldier, and a decent enough officer. This whole sordid affair is a major disappointment for me."

Dan's eyes narrowed, listening carefully to every nuance, trying to get a picture of where his foe could be. He was pretty sure he'd hit him. Good. The man would make a mistake eventually, even though 'eventually' was what Dan couldn't count on. He had no time, he'd have to act soon or more soldiers would be piling in and then he'd be fucked.

"You got it wrong, Colonel." Quietly putting the empty pistol down, he still had two more and a couple of clips. "It's not I who is itching to kill you, it's you who can't wait to kill me. Don't you?" Checking the secure position of the knife again, he'd have to act soon, and he had a feeling it was going to be messy.

Silence, except for a muffled sound.

"Poor Colonel, you thought you had everything under control and then one of your best men turns out to fuck with a turkey." Dan was breathing through his nose, steady, focussed. "Nine fucking years, right under your nose, and a spetsnaz took it up the arse. What does it make you feel like? A loser, I guess. A failure as CO. It'll look shit in your file, won't it? Moscow will ask why you'd known and why you hadn't acted and they will guess that's because you wanted to get fucked by a real man as well."

Sound, motion, finally. Something fell to the left, clattered, and covered what was going on. From what Dan had estimated, the Colonel's likely attack would be to shoot at him, or try to flank him from left, but in fact, when the Colonel appeared, lunging in a mad dash that betrayed his rage, he came over the right, firing to force Dan to keep his head down, who was completely taken by surprise. Emptying his pistol, snarling like an animal, the man came down on Dan like a brick wall, both of them slamming into the unforgiving steel behind.

Dan didn't have time to curse himself or the Colonel, he'd been wrong, and the result of his mistake was smashing so hard into him, all he could do was protect the vital areas and take the force that knocked the wind out of him. Fucking bastard had got one up on him. The moment he could get so much as a lungful of air, he was fighting and deflecting the fists that kept punching his face, no holds barred. Eyebrow splitting, nose hurting, jaw bruised, before he retrieved his orientation, getting one knee up and delivering a kick towards the Colonel's groin, followed by an elbow into his face and a fist for good measure. Dan had no more breath left to taunt, growling and spitting blood instead.

The Colonel held fast to Dan's shirt, pulling him down with him as he fell, face distorted with pain, his left arm lacking strength where the uniform was wet and smelling of blood, but it could only be a grazing because the bastard was still fucking strong, forcing Dan on the ground. One hand finding his throat and coming up close, he snarled at him, almost too breathless to speak, struggling for air himself, but holding on with the determination of a bulldog that had its jaws locked. "Speaking of … fucking, you … degenerate … piece … of shit, I'll … get everything out … of you. Every … last drop … of blood … in … Moscow … your death … will be … one … long … extended … nightmare."

Dan's right and strong hand around the wrist that was choking him, gripping so hard he could feel the bones inside twist and grate against each other, until the grip on his throat weakened, and he could force the hand away. Enough leverage to lift his upper body to punch the Colonel's left arm repeatedly. Hit in fast succession into the bullet wound, beating raw flesh, making the man scream with rage and pain and throwing him off balance. "First … you got …," hard to get the words out, fighting with all his strength, the bastard was his fucking match, "got to … get me. Wanker!" Hooked his good leg around the Colonel's, throwing himself into the movement to roll them over, trying to get on top.

The Colonel fought like a man possessed, older, clearly, by five to ten years, went with the roll and tried to overbalance Dan while struggling, hand again seeking Dan's throat. "We have … your bitch … You're … just an extra … bonus." Rolling and managing to force Dan's head against the leg of one of the fridges, trying hard to break his balance in turn, not allowing Dan to settle in on top.

The sharp wood and metal digging into Dan's face, he hissed in pain, blinded by the sheer adrenaline overload of fighting for his goddamned life. "Fuck you." Brought out between his teeth, Dan made a lunge for the Colonel's head, catching the throat between his teeth, digging them deeply into the tissue below the jaw, making the man recoil in reflex, on instinct, screaming again. The surprise and the pain was enough to give him that moment to slam his elbow into the man's ribs. Teeth letting go, scrabbling to get on top and smashing the side of his hand into the Colonel's jugular.

The Colonel managed to hit Dan's elbow to bring the blow off course so it didn't hit clean, protecting his throat and face. "You trained your bitch well … you see … where Krasnorada's going, they'll fuck him as often as they … like, and then cut his throat. Criminals don't … like soldiers. And when they … hear he's a cunt … hell, he only has to shower! … guess what they'll do ... to him? Thanks to your training, he'll even enjoy it!"

Dan froze, eyes wide, for one split second. Those words hit deeper than twenty years of soldiering and all of his SAS training had ever prepared him for. No experience, no tricks, nothing had equipped him against the effect of those images that flashed across his mind. Vadim. Raped. Vadim. Used.

Vadim!

Moments stalled, mistakes that could cost a life, and the Colonel took hold of Dan's arm, leaning into it, twisting the wrist, elbow to get into a hold before Dan could properly pin him. He was flexible for a man his age and strength, moving like a nest of pythons, powerful and skilled, and he flashed another grin - breathing between the teeth, chest heaving as he managed to roll on top by somehow using Dan's arm. Taking a handful of hair to smash Dan's head against the floor.

"I … had … plans … for him!" snarled the Colonel, fingers tight in Dan's hair, not letting go, yelling at him as loud as his lungs allowed, pulling his head up and bringing it down with full force.

Dan screamed, felt skin split and flesh burst, the blood stain on the floor growing with every repeated slam of his head onto the stone floor. Blood in his vision and blood on his tongue. He was breathing hard, gathering his wits and strength for one last stance, one final chance to fight the bastard.

"But I also … have plans for you." The Colonel released Dan only for a moment, slipped something over his head, and pulled it taut. Garrotte. His free hand patting Dan down, back, shoulders, arms, then further, the weight shifting. Found the gun stuck into Dan's belt in the small of his back, threw it to the side, beyond reach.

Dan's plans thwarted, instead his fingers scrabbling for the wire that was digging into his throat, cutting off air. His body struggled mindlessly, sounds of desperate gasping torn out his restricted throat. Felt hands on him, and fought, fought like hell, but oxygen began to recede, his strength uncoordinated. This time for real, unlike all the times with Vadim, and his mind focussed on only one thought. One. No more. Just one. Deadly.

"Moscow wants … you … but they … promised I can… have what's left of you. But then … all you'll … have to be able to do is … answer questions." The hand kept searching for weapons, the voice betrayed the Colonel was already celebrating his victory, expected Dan to be unconscious very soon. Smashing Dan's face into the floor again, for good measure, then took him by the shoulder to turn him around.

Dan wasn't sure anymore where he was, or what, and who and wherever the fuck, except for pain and blood, running down his face, into his mouth, blinding his vision. Words, taunting, didn't matter, just clinging to the one thought. Victory? Not yet, fuck, not yet, had to live, promised to live. I live for you, and until the other soldiers came and he had no more chance, he would cling to the one last focus. Turned round, he felt like a puppet, but needed to see, and the blood and pain made it as harder than a night, nine years ago.

"You pathetic faggot", snarled the Colonel, patting down his front and sides, finding the magazine, which momentarily made him frown, as if that had been unexpected, and threw the second gun away. Checking the pockets. Down the legs and up again, ribs, shoulders, all the time pulling the garrotte taut, while Dan's hand was scrabbling at the wire, making useless attempts at breathing.

"Who's the 'real man' now? You? Or me? Let's not talk about your 'girl' - he's going to get so much more cock than even he could possibly want …. What a death for a fucking masochist … choking on the cum of half the prison and then some … you think he'll remember? He'll curse you with his last breath, you faggot. He'll curse you every time they bend him over and beat him to a pulp. Krasnorada has no allies. Nobody will help him. He was one of us, but now he is nothing. And that's the last thing you'll ever know about him."

Dan roared, no sound, no air, but utter, soul-destroying rage, and the horror of those words won over burning lungs and a body in agony. Hands moving, sliding, down to his middle, while his upper body lifted from the floor. Against the strength that held him down; against the force that had conquered him. As the Colonel shouldered into him, trying to control him with his upper body strength, Dan's fingers slipped beneath the waistband of his jeans. The knife came out, sheath nestled beside his cock, and with an almighty effort, he plunged the blade into the bastard's guts, forcing it across, cutting the pig open.

The Colonel's scream turned almost immediately into a choking, and the grip loosened. Both hands went to the belly, trying to hold the guts in, pure instinct as the Colonel tried to get away, realising that was a killing blow and he needed help if he was to survive this. Blood running down the camo, as glistening flesh appeared in the cut. Almost instantly, the sweating face turned white as paper, and the Colonel tried to stagger away, holding his guts in with his arm, reaching for the fridge to support his weight as trauma shock almost denied him control of his body.

Dan moved the moment he was free of the weight, forced his body to comply, legs, arms, and most of all throat. Tearing the wire off his neck, he drew in desperate, frantic gulps of air, while rolling onto his belly, then his knees. Agony, coughing, but still alive and the bastard's blood running down the blade of his knife. "Fuck you, pig." His voice no more than a forced, raspy snarl, hardly able to do anything but breathe. "I was … right." Staggering from his knees onto his feet, wiping blood out of his eyes and swaying for a moment until he had found his balance. "Homophobes … don't …," violently coughing before he could get draw in air to stumble forward, gaining his senses, "check … there."

The Colonel fought shock and pain and disbelief, not reacting to the words, still together enough to retreat, but every motion was erratic, as if the pain denied every thought, every attempt at control.

Dan was right in front of him. His left hand had enough strength to pin the dying man's shoulders against the fridge, almost pushing him off balance. His knee followed, pinning the Colonel between metal and his own blood-covered body. "I'll live, you swine." Dan coughed again, hefted his knife, he didn't want to kill the man that swiftly, wanted to watch him die slowly and in agony instead. But the soldiers wouldn't be far and he had to get out and to safety, as long as his body still functioned. Control was slipping away with every minute. "I'll live and I'll get Vadim out."

The Colonel's bloodied hand made contact with Dan's lower arm, but lacked strength, nothing but a futile attempt at blocking and slapping away as he bled profusely. Staining Dan's jeans with his blood, hot, gushing out of an obscenely large wound, and he coughed in a reflex. Blood running out of the corner of his mouth, down the pale face. "… why …" Just the word, and whatever he meant, he didn't manage to go on.

Dan's chest was heaving with every forced breath, every fibre in agony, when he lifted his arms. "Because I fucking love that man, you bastard!" His hand came down, the knife slicing deep, blade embedded in the throat, tearing the jugular open, releasing a spray of bright red blood that gushed against his face and chest, while the Colonel's breath turned to a bone-chilling gurgle. "I love him, hear me? And I'll meet you in hell, one day, but before that, you die, fucking pig, die knowing I love him and I'll get him out!"

The Colonel's pale eyes blinked, slowly, one hand reached up to find his throat, then strength left him, and he slumped.

Dan let go of the body, as if it were hot, then wiped his face, blood everywhere. He was drenched, in his hair, face, clothes, and his own body felt as if it had been slaughtered as well. Eyes flickering around the kitchen, saw his pistol the Colonel had kicked away, the two clips, reloaded with shaking fingers and painful breath, without another glance at the dead man. No time to find the AK, and he simply didn't have the strength to carry the weapon. He had no idea if they were, after all, waiting for him at the back door of the kitchen exit, but he had to try. One more stab at living, just like he had promised.

Dan staggered forward, stumbled, then managed to fall into a trot, forcing his body to comply as he made his way down the corridor he should have taken the first time. Another steel door, but this time unlocked when he tried the handle. Kicked it open, expecting gun fire, but nothing happened, no one there, except for early morning light in a deserted city of death and dust. Dan started to run, two streets and one corner away. The embassy. He had to make it there.

Then, movement and shouting behind him, on the roof - alerting more soldiers that were placed to cut off any escape attempt, and they broke into a run, clearly to catch him alive on the order of a dead man. Dan could only imagine what the loss of comrades and their superior had done to their original plan - there was no strategy left, they scrambled around like ants in a burning ant hill - but some were behind him and running fast.

He could hardly coordinate his footing, but his instincts kicking in, the ones that distinguished an ordinary soldier from special forces, and he half-turned while running, firing behind him while picking up speed. Had no idea where his body found the reserves, just the one thought, needed to live, had to make it.

Never give up, never surrender! He who dares, wins, and fuck, he was daring right now.

Turning the first corner, he could already see the gates of the compound. The embassy akin to a fortress with its high walls and barbed wire and the manned gate. The soldiers were getting closer, despite putting all he could into his running, Dan was slower than those men, and all he could do was fire once more, hoping the guard was getting alerted by the sound of gunfire.

Trying to yell when he was a mere hundred yards away, but his voice barely did more than croak, could only hope they understood his frenzied words, "Open the fucking gate!"

One of the Soviet soldiers fell back, knelt down to bring up the rifle, while two comrades were still running after Dan, doubling their efforts before anybody could react, trying to increase the speed so Dan would be unable to hit them should he turn to shoot. Possibly spurred on by a comrade's death or the threat what would happen if the quarry got away.

Still shooting, whatever the bastard had told his men, Dan had to be thankful for the order, that meant to get him alive, since none of the shots that were fired at him were aimed at anything beyond incapacitating. Luck on his side at last, none of the bullets hit, and when he tried to yell again, he got the guard's attention. Wide eyes in a round face, the man was falling over his own feet attempting to open those damned gates as fast as he could.

Dan made it through, just about, the moment one of the soldiers had almost reached him by another hundred yards, and he stumbled a few steps further. Heard the gate being closed behind him, while his body kept moving forward.

He did not see the Ambassador's car, nor the Baroness herself, who was about to step into the limousine. Blood running into his eyes again, mixed with sweat and tears of pain, his lungs burning when pulling in air. Dan broke down, lost all strength and fell onto his knees, swaying.

"Dan!" The Baroness cried out and he looked up, hardly able to see anything but a blurry shape.

"Oh my God, Dan! What happened?" He felt her hand on his shoulder, face, head, thought for a moment, she shouldn't. All that blood. She'd spoil her fine suit, and her manicured hands, and … was jerked back to reality with an agonised gasp.

"They got him!" Coughing blood, the pistol dropped out of his hand, exhausted. His voice ragged and forced.

"The KGB got Vadim!"

- Dan and Vadim's story continues in the Mercenaries cycle -

 
 
Special Forces Chapter XX: Touche
 
 
Warning for Readers

The following work of fiction contains graphic homosexual interaction, violence and non-consensual sex. With this work of fiction the authors do not condone in any way any form of intolerance and injustice, e.g. racism, sexual harassment, incitement of hatred, religious hatred nor persecution, xenophobia and misogyny. Neither do the authors through this work of fiction promote violence nor make light of such grave matters as genocide, any taking of human life, murder, execution, rape, torture, persecution of sexual orientation.

By accessing this work of fiction you hereby accept and agree that this is a work of fiction and does not reflect in any way the opinions of the authors. The authors do not necessarily endorse the views expressed by the fictional characters.

By accessing this work of fiction you hereby indemnify the authors against all claims and actions whatsoever arising from reading the work of fiction.

All characters are fictional. Any similarities with living or deceased people are coincidental. In case of real life events, creative license has been applied. Special Forces is intellectual property of Marquesate and Vashtan. Copyright © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

 

 
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Published 14 March 2007