1994, Burgundy, France
Dan returned to the house, he was in a good mood. His
knee was sore from walking too much, but he didn't mind,
because he had new ideas, new thoughts, and where those
would take him and everyone else, he didn't know. But
the idea that he had was so crazy, it might even work.
was just about dawn when he went through the back gate
and crossed the garden towards the kitchen. There was
light on, and he craned his neck to see who was up already.
Not that it was that early, December on the continent
meant short days. Knocking on the back door before he
entered, he smiled when he spotted Solange. Perfect.
morning, Dan. You're up early. Do you want a coffee?"
She was standing at the espresso machine, sorting breakfast.
Even on her days 'off', she was dressed elegantly in
earthy warm browns, with a long skirt and a cashmere
V-necked jumper, a silk scarf hiding her throat.
would be brilliant, as strong as possible." Dan
peeled out of hat, gloves and jacket.
nodded and placed a small white cup under the nozzle,
and the machine produced dark coffee with a layer of
brown foam. "I was just about to properly wake
Jean. He's fallen asleep on the couch." She set
the cup, milk and sugar in front of him and started
afraid we must have plied him with too much vodka last
night." Smiling, he stepped closer to her. Looking
tired, but there was a spark of excitement in his eyes
that hadn't been there for a long time. "I'd like
to ask you something, Solange." Using her name,
a name that rolled off the tongue so smoothly, elegantly,
just like her.
looked at him. "Of course, what is it?"
down on the table, Dan prepared his espresso with a
heap of sugar. "I was wondering if you let me take
Jean away for a few days. Two or three. Perhaps in a
could go to Paris
my agency is trying to place
me for something." Solange sat down, had a sip
from her coffee and looked at Dan, large dark eyes without
a hint of mistrust or dislike, and she folded her hands
on the table.
need to leave, I'd like to take him away from everyone
and everything, including Ash, Vadim and this house."
Dan took a sip of his coffee. It wasn't about deceiving,
wasn't about sex. It truly and deeply was only about
Jean. His friend. "I was wondering, has Jean ever
talked about what he feels? What happened?"
for not realising how bad Pascal
was, for not getting professional help, for allowing
him to escape
" She shook her head and cast
down her eyes. "Like he's looking for something
that was his fault, as if his guilt would bring him
back." She shook her head again. "Almost as
as if suffering is his way to mourn."
thought so." Dan murmured, finishing his espresso.
Watching her for a moment, and he didn't know why, just
that he wanted to reach out. Scarred left hand lightly
covering hers on the table, and her thumb caught his
thumb, holding him, too. "I don't know if I can
help, but maybe he'll open up and talk to me, as a friend.
I'd like to try, because I've been there myself, I was
really down, too."
his best friend, Dan." She looked up again. "You
don't have to ask my permission to care for him."
She smiled. "He tries to act normally, if you take
the rest away, maybe it makes a difference. I'm
not sure what else we could try, I'm a very traditional
kind of woman, you know, I'm not sure I could force
him to do anything, including
face those feelings."
his wife, of course I ask your permission." Dan
smiled and squeezed her hand. "I'll try and get
him to face them." Standing up he took hold of
his jacket and kit. "I'll organise everything today.
You just go wake up your husband." With that and
a last smile he took his cane and made his way upstairs
to the room.
was getting out of the shower, towelling himself, water
running from his hair over his back. "You were
out all night?"
Dan flung jacket and cane onto the bed and sat down
on the chair close to the corner table. He grinned,
albeit tiredly. "Thinking my small thoughts takes
some time if I want to get to the big ones."
ran the towel across his scalp and face. "Okay.
You look like you found a solution
not sure if it is a solution, but it's at least a plan."
Taking his boots off with a sigh of pleasure, Dan rubbed
his socked feet together. "The straightforward
one is this: I take Jean out in a caravan and see if
I can get him to talk. Solange's happy with this and
hopes it will work. Two or three days, that should be
fine." Looking at Vadim, who was drying his feet
now, but paying attention. "Hope you don't mind
me doing that. Jean's my friend ... and it worked with
me when you did it." Trailing off, Dan busied himself
with his socks for a moment. "The other plan is
bigger, and so fucked up, it might actually work."
Flashing a grin before his face vanished inside the
jumper as he flung it off.
things into perspective
" Vadim nodded and
started to get dressed. "What is that big plan?"
nothing but his trousers now, Dan got up to stretch.
"Remember what I told you last night? That it's
not enough to have to actively seek help, because most
likely, the last scraps of pride are keeping you from
doing that, or perhaps you are so down you don't even
realise you need help, because you can't feel anymore,
and all you want is that numbness to stop."
nodded and gave a small smile. "What if it didn't
even have to come to that stage? What if there were
a network, across the world, for ex-Special Forces soldiers?
Discreet, international, with a few rules that include
no more enemies once you're out, if you have to sort
things with a punch-up, do it amongst mates, and a place
where all that shit we can never tell about, least of
all to a civilian, is the most normal thing, because
we all know and have all done it? Where 'killing in
the name of' is just what we did, not what defines us?"
keep an eye on each other?" Vadim moved to Dan,
standing close. "You can start with the people
we do know. And those know others
have to run this, though."
told me I needed to find myself a hobby." Dan tilted
his head, grinning. "You'd think running this 'Special
Forces Association' would give me some purpose, aye?"
Placing a hand onto Vadim's shoulder. Damn, that felt
good. Warm skin and muscle under his fingers.
hunting ground, too. Ogling the super-fit and super-mean?"
Vadim gave a laugh.
be silly," Dan grinned, "it'll be difficult
enough to get potential members to accept that this
thing is run by a gay guy and that his partner is there
as well." His other hand went into the back of
Vadim's neck. "And I guess that will be one of
the rules: nationality, race, sexuality don't matter.
If you can't solve disagreements with a simple punch-up,
you're out." Taking the final step closer until
their bodies touched. "I don't actually know if
there are any female special forces anywhere in the
heard female Israeli paratroopers are hard."
quite like me." Dan winked. "Still,
no-sex could be a rule as well." He grimaced, "or
we just sod that one."
laughed and placed an arm around Dan's waist. "You'd
get kicked out for breaking that rule, Dan. So better
sod it." He kissed Dan on the lips, running his
hand through Dan's hair. "Hmmm. Bed, or breakfast?"
if you take me unshowered ...?"
take you any way I can have you."
that case, I am all yours." Dan took a step back
towards the bed, taking Vadim with him. He managed to
get onto the bed and on his back without any accidents,
and was grinning when Vadim peeled his trousers off.
Still grinning when he spread his arms, his legs, lifted
his knees and flashed his teeth in a kick-ass smirk,
demanding 'to be taken'. But Vadim was feeling mellow
and started with thoroughly rimming him, until Dan's
relaxed attitude had turned to zoned-out need, and only
then fucked him just as thoroughly, taking his time,
but giving no quarter. They'd be late for breakfast,
but they had clear priorities. Priorities which left
Dan so sated, he fell asleep almost straight after his
orgasm. Lying sprawled across the bed, and nothing could
rouse him. Not even the prospect of food, and Vadim
had to go downstairs on his own.
Dan finally got up, he went out into town in their hire
car, and organised everything he'd need for the next
few days. It was easy, he wasn't going to go off into
the wilderness, after all. The rest was spent as a lazy
day, the high point of which was a 'pool party' in the
cellar 'spa area', and the high point of that was Ash
stripping off, baring a tattooed, powerful body, which
Vadim appreciated for a while. Then more alcohol and
food and chilling in front of the fireplace, ending
the day on a mellow note.
went off to bed first, Solange had already started her
beauty sleep, and Vadim was comfortably ensconced on
the couch, gazing at the fire. With everyone else up
to their beds, Dan went over to sit beside Jean on the
opposite couch. "I'm going to take you away."
looked at him. "Really? Where to?"
found some nice places when we were out with Beauvais."
Leaning forward to refill his glass. "Doesn't really
matter, though, because I'll put you into a camper van
and we'll head off tomorrow morning." He grinned.
"Three days with little old me will be survivable,
Jean glanced at Vadim. "Will you make sure Ash's
keeping his fingers off Solange?"
think he's interested?"
" Jean trailed off, frowning. "Just
don't think you need to worry. Ash said he'll be off
to Corsica, and he's a mate. Besides, Vadim is here
and when Vadim goes into protector mode, Ash won't get
closer than ten feet." Dan glanced over at Vadim,
"Am I right, Russkie?"
yeah. I think he needs to worry more." Vadim grinned.
"I'll make sure everything's going just fine."
you won't be coming?"
I think you and Dan could use spending some time together."
smiled at Jean. "Right, and that means you should
get your arse into bed, because we're heading off early
tomorrow. By the way, Solange is happy with us heading
off for a wee while."
like it's decided then." Jean got to his feet,
tired and alcohol-dazed. "Anything I should pack?"
Razor? I've got the rest. We'll be picking up supplies
in the local supermarket tomorrow. I've bought them
today, and the camper comes equipped with everything
else. So ... just bring yourself, preferably without
a hangover." Dan grinned, shooing Jean off, who
nodded at that and waved good night.
watched him leave. "Take as much time as you need.
Just call if it takes longer."
got off the couch once Jean was gone, holding his hand
out to Vadim. "You really think Ash's having an
eye on Solange? I rather figure Jean's paranoid right
think Ash is an honourable guy who might be interested
but wouldn't shag the wife of a comrade."
Dan took hold of Vadim's hand. "Time to head off
to the land of nod. I better make sure that I really
am awake and ready to go at the crack of dawn. Thank
fuck dawn's not that early."
I'm still jetlagged, too. This part of the world is
on the wrong time." Vadim stood, and yawned. "Just
wake me before you leave
They just about managed to get out of their clothes
and into bed, and the moment their heads hit the pillows,
they were both pretty much asleep.
the grey morning light not quite shining through the
windows yet, Dan was leaning over Vadim the next morning.
Fully dressed, a couple of coffees already down his
neck, the camper van keys in his hand, cane under his
arm. "Bye-bye, sleeping beauty." He grinned.
glanced up, head halfway buried in the pillow. "Enjoy
the holiday", he murmured.
not so much about enjoying." Dan murmured, leaning
further down to place a kiss onto Vadim. "I'll
call you tonight." With that he was ready and out
of the door, to make his way down to the kitchen, where
Jean was waiting for him, bleary-eyed, over another
coffee. "Good to go?"
pointed at a packed backpack and a jacket sitting next
to him. "I'm not recovering from vodka like I used
Yeah, good to go."
grinned, with less sympathy than amusement. "Tell
me about it, when Vadim picked me up I vomited out of
the car and was ill for two days."
got into the camper van and Dan drove off. Pretty quiet
for the first hour, just driving along the countryside,
looking for nothing in particular. Dan finally broke
the silence. "When you're done snoozing, want to
find a café for a late breakfast or want to park
somewhere and I cook the only thing that I can?"
Jean turned his head. "Maybe we even find something
more substantial than croissant and coffee."
I'll have a look at the next village, if you don't trust
my cooking skills." Dan indicated a sign to the
right. "Wise decision, actually."
were lucky, they not only found parking in the small
place, but also a cafe, for their caffeine fix, a butcher
and a bakery, and all together they got a breakfast
that was hot and while not healthy, certainly designed
to wake the dead and to kill the living. Dan drove off
to park a little bit away, out of sight and in a small
road that led into a forest, where they sat down in
the camper to eat. Dan didn't say much, had his coffee,
ate his food and smoked a fag, after offering one to
wiped the crumbs off his front and legs. "Better."
He reached for a cigarette and let Dan light it for
him, then leaned back to exhale the smoke and look at
the sky. "Don't know. I have no idea how that happened."
one of the many things that have happened?" Exhaling,
Dan watched the smoke disappear.
I could lose him like that. Prison? Drugs?"
were not his minder. You were his friend, and friends
can take care but not control."
exhaled smoke. "But I should have. I'm the only
one who could have. I should have seen it coming."
knew him. He trusted me."
knew him and that means that you knew every little thing
that was going on in his head? You believe you knew
absolutely everything including what might have triggered
the violent reaction in the first place? You knew him
so well that you could have stopped the things happening
" Jean shook his head. "I got through
when I left the Legion, I was fucked-up.
Told you, I almost killed Solange
" He shook
his head. "Should have known it was the same for
Pascal, but no, he wasn't that mild-mannered, not that
gentle, not the butt of the joke. He had just as much
shit inside him as I had."
he'd already been out of the Legion for a while, isn't
could you have known?"
experience. It took me a while to get anywhere with
myself after the Legion. Any excuse for a fight, and
good old Jean was right in the middle of it."
that experience should have told you that years
after leaving the Legion and years after the problems
that you had, Pascal would suddenly flip? That's bullshit,
Jean, and you know it. You're not superman."
rubbed his face. "Means it had to happen?"
Jean looked at Dan, eyes wide with an angry, desperate,
hurt expression. "You think he really wanted all
that? Wanted to kill himself?"
that's bullshit as well. It means that maybe, if things
had been different, and if he hadn't met the woman he
did, and if he hadn't gone out that night, and if he
hadn't been drinking, and if the goddamned star constellation
hadn't been the way the moon was shining that goddamned
night, then ... then maybe it hadn't happened. What
I mean is, that what happened was a tragedy, and if
many things had been different, it could have been avoided,
but you, Jean, in all those circumstances, you
couldn't have prevented what happened. You did what
you could, to your best abilities, you took over responsibility,
but you couldn't have prevented it. It is not your responsibility
that Pascal is dead." Extinguishing the cigarette,
Dan leant close. "It is not your fault. You are
police thinks that I am."
police thinks you threw Pascal out of the window?"
think I did something to him. But most of all, that
I kidnapped him and held him prisoner, and that while
running away, Pascal killed himself. Maybe that he killed
himself to escape me." Jean's voice was level,
dry, monotonous. "Could have helped him to put
like I did, wife, house, all that
can help with some of those crazy thoughts."
how would you have done that? Would you have found a
woman for him, bought a house for him and put him inside?
It doesn't work like that." Dan stood up, to expend
some of the energy. "We are not responsible for
others, we cannot be. Not even for the ones we love."
was like a brother, Dan." Voice soft, eyes blurring.
Dan said quietly. Hand on Jean's shoulder, he squeezed,
then reached to pull him up and take him across to the
bunk beds to sit down. "But sometimes, brothers
can't help brothers, and not even lovers can't help
lovers ..." Sitting down and taking Jean with him,
Jean embraced him, held him, pulling him with him as
he lay down, face against Dan's chest, breathing deeply.
as long as you need me to." Dan held Jean close,
stroking the blond hair. Nothing wrong with holding
someone who was hurting, nothing at all. "Won't
cuddled close, breathing against his chest, gradually
relaxing a bit. "It's good having you", he
sorry I wasn't there for you earlier. Had a shit time
myself." Turning his head to place a kiss wherever
he could reach, one landed on Jean's hair.
if you ever need help. Tell me. I'll do whatever."
Jean shifted, rolled Dan over onto his back and looked
down at him. "Don't piss off like he did. Okay,
you have Vadim, but ... still."
won't piss off, I promise. I learned my lesson."
Smiling up at Jean. "You're already doing a damn
lot, you're my friend. That's more than most ex-soldiers
have, especially special forces."
gave a small smile. "Not completely selflessly,
though." The smile became a smirk and he kissed
Dan on the lips, tenderly, tongue following, fingers
splayed on Dan's face and temple.
broke the kiss after a moment, "you're not hearing
me complain." Before pulling Jean back down. Hand
at the back of his neck, feeling the strength beneath
his fingers, and he shifted slightly, arranging his
legs so that their groins pressed against each other,
legs angled and thighs rubbing. Jean threw himself enthusiastically
into the love-making, making Dan breathless with his
recklessly sexy kisses, almost purring under the touches,
taking it slow and intense, no reservation, whether
he rubbed against him or opened his fly to kiss and
lick Dan's cock. Sucking him before long, and touching
himself, but not to get himself off, but, the way he
did it, to show himself off and arouse Dan, who was
blown away. Almost helpless under Jean's hands, lips,
and body, and at some stage, he was so breathless and
close to orgasm, he started to plead, unashamed, which
was enough to get Jean off. When Jean finally made him
cum, Dan was pressing him close, erratically shuddering.
grinned tiredly, face seemed sated and relaxed. "No,
not selfless at all." Kissing Dan, who was grinning
like a fool, while Jean lay half on top, half on his
side. "But you're okay now?"
... very okay." Not quite understanding the question,
Dan was out in post orgasmic bliss. Not even realising
his legs were trapped in the trousers around his ankles
and his boots were still on. The top, thankfully, had
been pulled off at some stage. "You?"
nodded. "Getting there." He grinned at Dan's
state of semi-dress and leaned back. "You got a
over there." Pointing to the table, Dan made no
attempts at getting up. "If you get them, bring
them here, take my damned boots off, and clean me up,
I'll give you a blow job next time that you'll never
forget." He grinned.
laughed. "'Kay." He got up, shed the rest
of his own clothes and returned with a towel and cigarettes,
lighting one and starting it, before he stuck it between
Dan's lips, and then cleaned him up.
could get used to that service, you know." Talking
around his fag, Dan watched Jean take his boots, socks
and trousers off. "Just hoping we won't encounter
a flic who wonders why we are parked here." Grinning
sharply, Dan patted the space beside him, when Jean
joined him, lighting his own cigarette. "Don't
care. I got nothing to hide."
have I. Guess it would be difficult anyway, being naked,
aye?" He rolled his eyes and grinned.
huffed and studied Dan's body. "I quite like you
figured that. Can't say you're too bad to look at either."
Lifting his right leg, Dan pointed at his knees and
the fresh collection of scars. Not pretty, but functional.
"That's the latest one."
touched the scar, stroking it with his thumb. "Yeah,
that's impressive. Did that hurt bad?"
pondered his answer for a moment, until he came out
with simply the truth. "Aye. Like a motherfucker.
The bones got infected and they had to take it back
out again." He shrugged, but he wasn't all that
good at playing it lightly. "Thanks to my brother
it got all sorted in the end." He reached across
to the ashtray, placing it onto his abs. "I'll
never run again, but I can walk, and that's all that
I had no idea."
alright, I wasn't talking to anyone at the time."
Dan turned his head and looked at Jean with a small
smile. "Remember what I told you earlier? Sometimes
even a lover or a friend can't make a difference to
what is going on in one's mind. I refused help, refused
to talk, refused anything."
why it was impossible to get to you?"
much." Reaching across, Dan touched Jean's face,
before putting the ashtray away when Jean had extinguished
his own cigarette. "If I hadn't been picked up
just in time ..." leaving the rest unsaid. "Anyway,
that's why I had an idea last night and why I need your
Whatever you want." Jean stretched out, idly scratching
was thinking of starting up a network. Club, or association.
Special Forces association, aye. International and with
only a few rules: if someone was your former enemy,
they aren't now. Gender, sexuality and race are to be
disregarded, and if you can't solve an argument with
a simple punch up, then stick your bloody head down
a loo until you've calmed down." Dan flashed a
sharp grin. "I know it sounds fucking crazy and
might not work, but a discreet organisation, a lose
network of ex soldiers, ex special forces, who
can understand each other, and who can say what they
want without having to censor themselves for the civilians,
and who might provide enough of a safety net that its
members don't drop off and do stupid shit ... maybe
nodded, looking uncharacteristically thoughtful. "So
they don't kill themselves?"
took in a deep breath, exhaling slowly. "So that
the aggression doesn't need an outlet, aye. I think
what makes us dangerous at times is because we don't
fit in, we deal with what we've done and what we've
seen, and we can't talk about it. And ... suicide is
game. Pretty sure Ash is, too. Thierry
was wondering if it should be ex-special forces?
What do you think?"
I'm still active. Sort of. Not sure when I'll take the
next contract, haven't been feeling like it, lately."
private contract is different. You are no longer employed
by any nation's military. You are not a soldier anymore,
thus you have no affiliation, and thus you can't have
enemies. Well ... officially." Dan grinned. "Anyway,
what do you think? Should it be only ex?"
make sense, but maybe allow for some flexibility, just
in case somebody still active needs or wants to join.
The guys who are still active have their units and the
a good idea." Dan nodded, lazily pulling Jean close,
who followed, stroking Dan's chest. "And who knows,
if this whole crazy idea is successful, then maybe we
can even get some funds and apply for charitable status
and ... perhaps one day there will be a Pascal foundation."
Turning his head, "and I don't actually know his
Durand Foundation." Dan leaned across to gently
touch Jean's face. "You think he would have liked
that? A network that keeps us all going?"
nodded, silently, pressing his lips together. "Yeah",
he managed finally. "I think he would've."
work my arse off to achieve this, then." Placing
a kiss on Jean's cheek, then lips.
help", said Jean. "Would be good to do something
for him, too, even if
it's a bit late."
and I am sorry. Really am sorry." Kissing Jean
again, Dan held him close. Just lying there, peacefully
and dozing with open eyes.
rested against his chest, idly stroking Dan's body,
familiar, content and gentle. "You make it less
bad", he murmured.
smiled and leaned his head against Jean's. "That's
what friends are for."
finding themselves a nice restaurant and having plenty
of good food, they returned to the caravan for the night,
sitting outside for a while, despite the cold. Wrapped
up, they enjoyed each other's company and a bottle of
wine. Jean seemed better, more relaxed, and very thoughtful.
there's one thing I don't want.
I don't want you to worry about me
or, you know,
worse. Because of Pascal."
that mean I don't have to put the suicide watch onto
you?" Dan glanced to the side, exhaling smoke into
the cold night air.
wouldn't do that. Never. Just
" he shrugged.
"Drink too much, talk too little."
I did that, and it was shit." Dan took a sip of
his wine. "Besides, you have Solange, and she loves
you so very much, but as she told me, she feared she
wasn't able to get you to open up." He smiled,
"she's more passive, aye?"
It's usually me who takes care of her. Not sure she
knew how to deal with the tables turned. I mean, she
gives me peace and all that, but she's not the
type who can bitchslap some sense into me."
admit, I really can't imagine that either." Dan
grinned, refilling Jean's glass. "Guess that's
what I'm here for, bitchslapping you." Dan's smirk
lit up his whole face. "So, consider yourself bitchslapped
and if you don't stop drinking yourself into a stupor
every night, I'll come to get your arse. A propos arse
glanced up. "Yeah?"
you're really that precious about it, then next time
you're piss drunk and desperate, there might not be
someone to say 'no'." Dan raised a brow and his
Jean seemed to realize what had happened that night.
"Shit. I was just
couldn't sleep and I'd
almost got you fucked." Clinking his glass against
Jean's. "And since I am a selfish bastard, I figure
that if anyone is ever going to fuck that arse of yours,
then it's me." Grinning wildly to take any sting
out of it.
Vadim." Jean swallowed. "Fuck, he's big. That's
a scary thought right there
laughed, "hey, he isn't that big. I can
take him easily."
shuddered. "Still. I mean
be that scared about it, enjoying all the other things
I do, but
" He shrugged. "Don't get
my head around getting fucked."
he is not bigger than I am, is that clear?"
laughed. "No. No, he's not. Course not."
I know what you mean, I didn't allow him to fuck me
for a long, long time, but then I had ..." trailing
off quickly, Dan shrugged. "Anyway, you fucked
me, and you know that I enjoy it."
good reason to marry, see? Somebody
who loves getting fucked like that." Jean had another
sip of wine and Dan laughed.
means I better marry Vadim." Another bout of laughter
promise, if I ever get my head around it, I'll let you
you know my number." Grinning, they sat side by
shoulders touching, and sharing a bottle in the clear
night, until it was time to go inside and warm up, and
share more than just wine.
* * * * * *
they eventually got back to the house, something had
changed in Jean. While the sadness was still there,
he allowed himself to grieve now, and to accept what
had happened. The guilt had been replaced by a painful,
yet growing understanding.
had left a couple of days ago, and Solange had been
the perfect hostess for Vadim, who had enjoyed himself
in the company of the lady more than he had thought.
Even when she took him shopping, something she truly
was an expert at. The fact that he'd somehow grown a
lot more of a wardrobe - and also, she assured him,
a far more varied one - wouldn't necessarily lead to
Dan appreciating it, but the money was flowing freely
and she made shopping a breeze and thoroughly enjoyable.
stayed for a couple of weeks longer, until it was close
to Christmas. During that time Dan talked a lot with
Jean, across in the garden house, about their jobs,
their comrades, their lives, their lovers, and one of
those nights, with Vadim and Solange in the main house,
Dan was sitting with an enormous grin, waiting for Jean.
was just coming back from the kitchen in the main house
and brought with him some food and two bottles of wine.
Seeing Dan grin at him, he sat the food down and smirked
at him. "What's up, Dan?"
was wondering about your interesting Christmas decorations."
Christmas decoration? I don't think we have ..."
one." Dan pulled something out of his pocket and
dangled it from between his fingers. A black leather
collar, studded with silver.
laughed. "Wouldn't fit you. Damn, the woman isn't
tidy all the time."
so it isn't you who is wearing it? You disappoint me."
Placing the collar down onto the floor, Dan held his
hand out for the plate with food instead.
I?" Jean laughed. "No, I collared her a few
months before the marriage ... but we figured authorities
wouldn't see the collaring the same way we did, so we
did the traditional thing as well."
Dan blinked, a sandwich hovering in mid air. "What
the hell does that mean?"
is my slave." Jean grinned, somewhat self-consciously.
"It's a pledge. I own her. It's ... it sounds weirder
than it is, really. She likes it that way, it was really
her idea, and most people would never notice, because
... well, it's mostly a thing when we are alone, or
she wears it when she goes to Paris. Just so she remembers
she belongs to me."
wears this when she goes out? Holy fuck."
That or a chastity belt."
had stuffed the sandwich into his mouth, spluttered
and almost choked on it. "What? Chastity belt?"
Reaching for the wine to wash it down quickly. "But
what does it mean, her being your slave?"
means I call the shots. I make the decisions. Her body
belongs to me. If I should decide, that, for example,
Ash can fuck her, that is what happens, she doesn't
even get asked. On the other hand ..." Jean grinned.
"It's about working out what the slave wants but
wouldn't ask. I can push her and stretch her limits,
but I can't go too far. It's ... a game. It keeps things
interesting, and is especially helpful when either of
us is away." Jean looked at Dan. "Okay, now
you think I'm a freak."
swallowed the last bit of his sandwich, staring at Jean
with very dark eyes. Slowly chewing, until he swallowed
it carefully. Taking his time to wash it all down with
some more wine, before he finally answered: "No.
On the contrary."
think I'm completely normal?" Jean poured some
wine. "What about this, then ... before you and
Vadim came for the wedding, I made Solange blow Thierry,
right there on the couch, and then she blew me, while
he watched and that night, I bound and gagged her and
Thierry fucked her ... we were taking turns until we
couldn't go on any longer ..."
blinked again, abut to say something, but he remained
quiet. Finishing his wine instead. "I don't know."
He finally admitted. "That ... I don't know. Give
me more wine and I might get my head around it."
plenty of wine. Frederic keeps dropping off more."
Jean grinned and leaned back while Dan refilled his
glass, which he half emptied straight away. "I
think part of ... part of that fascination I had for
Solange was that she's like that. Remember how I told
you how we met?" Dan nodded. "I could have
killed her, just for deceiving me, and that turned her
on, on some level, and I saw that, I saw that she wanted
to be treated like that. And I really, really wanted
to treat her like that. Sexually, we're like hand and
glove. It's perfect. For her, for me ... well, if I
could have a male slave, too, I guess..." Jean
me." Dan very quickly waved his hand. "Not
my cuppa, and Vadim's taken."
Is he?" Jean grinned.
cocked his head when he realised what he'd said. The
implications slowly filtering through. "I ..."
finishing the wine, "I cut the Cyrillic first letter
of 'mine' in his thigh. Does that count?" Slowly
moistening his lips, new thoughts were taking him to
places he hadn't been to yet. Not quite.
does." Jean shook his head. "Always wondered
about that ... you have your masochistic moments, and
you can also be sadistic, or ... dominant. Vadim, I'd
have pegged him as a dom, but I've had too much sex
with you guys to really believe that anymore. So, you're
... really." Dan rubbed his nose with the heel
of his hand. "And I wouldn't call what I do 'masochistic'.
I just play games, and sometimes it's something of a
re-enactment, perhaps. Exorcism." He shrugged,
"and I wouldn't call what I've been doing sadistic,
not when the guys are enjoying it, and they sure as
fuck did." Refilling his glass yet again.
... or submissives, or whatever you call them, they
do enjoy it. It's what they want. They are actually
in charge and all that, because they allow it to happen.
Forcing them, really forcing them would be rape and
abuse, but it's not. It's fucking with their minds."
know the difference." Dan glanced towards the plate
with food, but didn't take any. "With Vadim ...
that's a different matter. He told me that something
'clicked' when I tortured him. And fuck, that was
Jean looked taken aback. "Torture. The real deal,
the real, goddamned motherfucking deal." Dan frowned,
put the glass down. "It was revenge, fourteen years
ago. I hated him. And that moment, up in the Afghan
mountains, that moment he said something, something
'clicked' with me as well. I was the one who cut 'cunt'
into his back." Dan looked at Jean, not blinking,
open and honest. Expecting judgment, whatever the verdict.
He wanted to add that there had been nothing sexual
about it, but he remained silent, because ultimately,
everything had been sexual about it.
marked him. That ... that's powerful stuff." Jean
was visibly trying to get his head around it. "I
never went that far, but my best guess is ..."
Jean stared into the wine and chewed thoughtfully on
his lip. "There's a point when they can't resist
anymore. At some point, they give up, they open up,
and then they are all yours. I'm not sure we can even
use that to understand what you guys did, but ... something
happens when that happens ... the submission. That's
really strong stuff. Maybe, even though it was torture
and even though it wasn't ... consenting adults and
all that ... maybe that's exactly what happened?"
had never been about consenting adults with us."
Dan looked at his left hand, studying the scars. "Not
until he begged me to kill him with honour. I think
... I think he believed I would rape him with the knife."
Staring at his hand as if he could decipher the past
from the patterns of scars.
jerked, muttering "shit" under his breath.
He looked at Dan, almost if asking him to say 'but I
wouldn't have', waiting for something like that for
several long moments, until Dan finally looked up from
took me years to realise that that's what he thought
I'd do." Quietly, dryly. "Hence his fascination
for me with a knife, I guess." He shrugged, some
self-deprecating humour about him. As dry and brittle
as his words. "And I only wanted to finish the
last letter." The huff that followed had a weary
quality. "I never told him. Would you believe that?
And now ... now you tell me about this fucking collaring
and I want to carve my name into his flesh." Trailing
off, Dan turned his gaze away, refilling his glass.
had to clear his throat. "He wants it ... you want
it ... what's the problem? It's not torture if you know
what he wants ... and respect the limits. No ... no
permanent damage. Keeping in control of what you're
do you know that he wants it? That it isn't some fucked-up
result of the other torture?" Dan lifted
the glass to his lips, taking a large mouthful.
a hunch, but from what I've seen of Vadim, I'm pretty
sure he enjoys some pain. And I don't think torture
can cause that ... I think that's something you are
or you aren't, it's not made, not triggered. I don't
think you made him enjoy pain."
not, but he sure as fuck enjoys giving out pain."
Another mouthful. "Not to me though. Not in that
way. As I said, I play, but I'm not real. He's got someone
else for that. Well, had ..."
I figured ..."
pondered a moment. "It's not the dishing out of
pain for me that does it. That's just a by-product.
It happens. It's the utter control. There's this couple
in Glasgow that we met and ... holy shit, controlling
their every breath, every thought, made me drunk with
it. And if it were Vadim ... it'd kill me. I think he
... he knows that."
Jean nodded. "I know exactly what you mean."
Eyes glowing with a fierce emotion. "There's a
lot of stuff you can do. Controlling his breath, his
movement, collars ... control is an art form, and there
are all the tools you could wish for. Solange ... I
put chastity stuff on her. Just the thought that nobody
else can fuck her kills me. That any step, any movement,
she knows exactly that she's mine."
nodded, moistening his lips again. "I like dildos,
butt plugs, and gags. Blindfolds. Reducing the senses
to nothing, except for touch. Watching, listening ...
I've done that. Kept Vadim like that, tied up. But ...
somehow I've always improvised. A collar would make
things different." Emptying the glass in one go,
"I guess you know what I mean."
You want to own him. Make him your slave, completely
yours, your property." Jean shifted. "Shit.
Turns me on, too."
fuck." Dan glanced at his crotch, which had been
a lot more comfortable a while ago. "I'm fucking
horny now." Looking straight at Jean, very intensely
laughed. "Either take that to your man, or we keep
it here ... your choice."
guess I do understand now why you're so precious about
your arse ..." But Dan made no attempt at getting
up. Instead, he leaned closer.
..." Jean tapped his temple, "weird for me.
Mentally. I feel much better when I'm in charge, and
getting fucked is like submission. I don't do that.
It doesn't turn me on. Well, I like to blow you, I guess
I'm not completely ... dominant with that, but fucking
is five steps too far."
bullshit that getting fucked is about submission."
Dan gave a quick, sharp grin. "But I guess I won't
ever sway you."
grinned, adjusting himself. "Or maybe it's just
because you are fucking gorgeous even for a straight
the straight eye is yours?" Dan snorted, shifting
closer. "Get real, Frenchie, you want me, and you
want me because I have hard angles where Solange is
softer; because I am as strong as you are, where she
is physically weaker; and because, in the back of your
mind, you know that I could potentially overpower
and take you, because I am your equal ..." So close
now, Dan could feel the heat from Jean's body, "and
..." he murmured, "you like that gamble ..."
you wouldn't ..." Jean grinned, kissing Dan's throat.
"However much I'd tease you and however horny you
were, you'd never do it. That's not a gamble, that's
a safe bet with money-back-guarantee."
really are that goddamned sure?" Dan tilted his
head to allow better access, while grinning. One hand
sneaking towards Jean's shoulder, the other caressing
his chest, up towards the throat, while getting Jean
out of his shirt.
I trust you, Dan ... that's why you're the first guy
I did all that to, sober, I mean. You're an honourable
bastard, and I guess I was taking advantage of you in
Kuwait, but fuck, I didn't mean any harm, I always told
you how it is, right?"
right, just like now." Dan's grin grew, pulling
back a fraction, as if to look at Jean, but in the forward
motion he suddenly twisted, pushed against the chest,
pulled against the shoulder, forcing Jean out of balance,
from a sitting position halfway sprawled onto his front.
did trust Dan and his response wasn't automatic and
not fierce, merely somewhat resisting, but far from
playing dirty or getting brutal. "What ... what's
the plan, Dan?" Glancing at Dan, some tension in
him, but not much.
let me have some control." Dan murmured
close to Jean's ear, his weight on top of the other
man. "A taster, if you like ..."
grinned. "Like? What do you want to do, Dan? Tie
me up? Make me suck you?"
I told you that it wouldn't be control, right?"
Running a hand down along the side of Jean, back up
along the spine, to rest between his shoulder blades.
stayed close, pushing against him like he needed the
touch. As much touch as he could get. "You didn't
get the part I told you about bottoms and subs."
yes, I did ..." Leaning down, Dan placed a kiss
at the base of Jean's spine, slowly working his way
upwards. "But how much did you get the part of
me saying I wasn't one?" Chuckling low, Dan had
reached the shoulder blades, replacing his hand with
his lips. "I figure ..." murmured, "that
in all the time we have known each other, I always allowed
myself to be passive, because Jean was straight ..."
kissing, licking and lightly biting the neck, the side
of the throat, the jaw, speeding up Jean's breath like
that, and the ex-Legionnaire kept pushing back. "Jean
was just experimenting ... but I reckon you are a lot
less straight than you've ever claimed to be."
was experimenting", murmured Jean. "All
that stuff is very confusing
didn't want to have
a go at it, because
didn't want to face it. A
faggot in the Legion? There are some, more-or-less secret,
whatever the rules say, but these guys are exponentially
harder than anybody else. One guy I knew off
the most amazing mismatched eyes, but fuck, he was hardly
human anymore. I
didn't want all that pain."
..." Dan nudged Jean to tip his head back and bare
his throat, which made Jean shiver and give a small
groan. "You never seemed to have thought about
anything. Not back in Kuwait, not even when my best
intentions of not bothering a straight mate came to
... getting fucked when I didn't even want that."
didn't want me fucking you?" Jean reached for Dan's
chest, touching him. "I'm sorry. I did take advantage
of you. And you'd just been fucked around by Vadim,
was about to grin and retort that what one wants and
what one really wants wasn't necessarily the
same, when he captured Jean's hand on his chest, "what
do you mean, fucked around?"
way you were with each other. The split-up."
I guess you weren't innocent, either, but Vadim
he's the more vicious of you guys."
he?" Dan's brows rose to his hairline, clearly
remembering the 'you are stronger, Dan', which had confused
him just as much.
If I'd get on your bad side, you'd just simply shoot
me. If I'd get on Vadim's bad side
me. I think, deep down, I'm still fucking scared of
couldn't help it, he burst into laughter. Destroying
the mood he'd been in, but nothing a few well placed
words, hands and lips couldn't remedy. Rolling to the
side, he faced Jean. Still grinning when he had himself
enough under control to talk. "Does everyone think
Vadim's a psychopath? I must have missed something,
in that case."
think that's the common assumption." Jean reached
for Dan's hips, pulling him closer, flat hand finding
his groin, and adding a little pressure. "Still,
he's sexy. Scary sexy, if that makes sense."
you want him?" Pushing harder into that hand. "Without
me?" Something calculating about Dan, something
that wasn't as playful as his usual self.
Jean looked at him. "I don't trust him the way
I trust you. I wouldn't be calling the shots."
that the only reason?
gave a laugh. "How many more reasons do you need?
He fucked up my elbow in the tussle we had, and he could
just as easily have turned me over and fucked me. And
I'd have shot him for that."
leaned his head back, resting on his arm. "So that's
what it was. Neither of you ever told me why the fuck
you hated each other's guts, back in the Gulf."
" Jean grimaced. "Let's say he
tried to show me his appreciation and I
appreciate that. We were halfway through the bonding
shit when he decided he should take it to the next level
guess he thought I was flirting. Don't know.
I think we could have ended up friends, but after he'd
fucked up my elbow
you decided that you'd get your revenge by fucking with
his at-that-time ex-partner, instead." Dan pulled
a face, and Jean visibly winced, swallowing whatever
defence came to him. "A reason that didn't have
to do with Vadim as a deterrent, but with me,
would have been not too bad." Dan gave a slight
grinned. "I can only love two people, not three,
honey. Three is a crowd."
Dan was about to say something, when he carefully closed
his mouth again. 'Love'? There be dragons, and he'd
been riding on one for too long. "In that case
..." clearing his throat, "pointing me to
where I can find a blindfold and cuffs isn't asking
too much, aye?"
main bedroom has all the interesting toys, but there's
a blindfold in the nightstand over there
even have cuffs."
thing you've upgraded since the airbeds." Dan flashed
the South Africa money
" Jean rolled over
on his stomach to reach the nightstand. "Bingo."
He dropped blindfolds and proper metal cuffs on the
bed. Not the flimsy ones that could be broken, but the
jointed ones that police used, and Dan reached for them,
weighing them in his hands like a familiar, long-missed
you put those on me", Jean murmured, "I'd
figured the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But I liked
pretty much from the beginning. Got caught
up in my own game, of sorts."
worried I'm be pissed off with you now?" Dan smiled,
reaching to stroke Jean's face, down to his chest, where
Jean looked at him, eyes dark with concern. "I
wouldn't hurt you, Dan. I'm not tricking you. I'm serious."
a bit too late for that." Dan's grin grew, "for
the hurting. Whatever the reason why you started this
whole thing with me, it's too late to pretend it's anything
than what it is." Whatever that was, and Dan wasn't
too keen on finding out every detail. Sitting up, he
gestured towards Jean with that challenging grin of
his. "You might already have your top off, but
you're otherwise entirely overdressed."
Jean seemed somewhat less than convinced, but he pulled
off his trousers, briefs, socks, then lay back, arms
behind his head. He seemed more alert, watchful almost,
trying to read Dan, but Dan only grinned at him.
you just say that you trusted me?" Leaning closer,
Dan had a very good look at the body. A perfect body,
no doubt. No blemishes, nothing that marred the perfection,
apart from the scar on the outside of the thigh. "No
need to look at me like a snake at the snake charmer."
the cuffs." Jean straightened his arms and
offered Dan his wrists, as if to contradict the nervousness.
made a low hushing sound and shook his head. "On
your front, please." Uncommon courtesy, delivered
with a mischievous grin.
Jean stretched out, but on his back for now, relaxing,
but his stomach was taut. Idly reaching down to tug
at his cock that was half-hard in the blond hair. "If
you keep looking at me like that I'll assume you want
to photograph me, too
" Slowly turning over
until he lay prone.
voice had taken on a husky tone. "Vadim did say
I should take on another hobby, but right now I wouldn't
have a clue how to go about it." Reaching for Jean's
hands, the cuffs snapped shut with a low, metallic click,
circling the strong wrists, and Jean's back and shoulder
muscles worked and displayed a sudden tension. "You
think I should start taking pictures of naked, helpless
men?" Murmured into Jean's ear, who shifted, pressing
his forehead into the mattress.
are some black and white shots of me
I can show
Jean laughed, sounded nervous. "But naked."
by Chrestien?" Dan teased, while reaching for the
blindfold in Jean's back.
Fuck no." Jean shook his head. "Even though
he'd have chewed off an arm to get me there."
that mean I could have bought a magazine and found you
as the centrefold?" Grinning, Dan reached forward,
and in one swift motion slipped the blindfold over Jean's
" Jean faltered, and didn't
get the last syllable out.
private entertainment, then?" Dan murmured, so
close to Jean's ear, his lips almost touched it, as
he fastened the blindfold securely in the back of Jean's
head. "Just like now, aye?" His hand ran down
the spine to touch the handcuffs, warming the steel.
The word was just an exhaled breath. Jean was silent,
tensed up, but not freaking out. Passive, for once,
because he had no other choice. No other options. He
shifted his legs, which were slightly opened, even though
that made him vulnerable.
hand left the steel, and then a shuffle and rustling
of cloth as Dan took off his clothes, discarding them
to the side. Naked like Jean, his body a very different
picture to the one laid out before him. Watching Jean
for a moment, without touching, until he positioned
himself beside the body, which allowed him full access
of hands and lips, without having to kneel. Dropping
a hand between the slightly opened legs, he let his
fingertips caress the flesh, drawing a shudder from
Jean, but never touching the cock that was pressed into
the mattress. "How are you feeling?"
than I thought I'd be", Jean murmured. He opened
his legs further, as if to underline his words.
because you were right in one thing: I never would overpower
you. I guess I just am an honourable bastard."
With a low chuckle, Dan proceeded to kiss and caress
the body before him. Lightly biting, licking, touching
with tender strokes, then harsher demands, before once
again kissing. Taking his time with the whole body -
as much as he could reach, but never getting beyond
fondling the balls. The cock was off-limits for now.
Jean relaxed under the caresses, but at the same time
was clearly aroused, the way his breathing shifted and
how he responded with a hundred small signs, his strong
body welcoming the attention, and he opened further
when Dan did touch his balls, clearly asking for more
shifted to reach for the bedside table. He knew he'd
find lube there, and he managed to squeeze some into
one hand, while the other kept rolling flesh and fondling
balls. Getting himself part between Jean's legs, part
outside, waiting for the lube to warm on his fingers.
"You see ..." murmured, "I was told even
straight men enjoy stimulation ..." poised, then
moving and slipping a finger smoothly inside Jean, angling
just right, "... there."
almost jumped off the bed, the speed, the place unexpected,
surprised at the finger and the violent shudder than
raced through him when Dan hit the spot right away.
His fingers closed, and he let out a groan that sounded
nothing like him, struggling with the overpowering sensation.
seems the rumours are correct, then." Barely above
a whisper, a very low chuckle accompanied Dan's words,
as he pulled out again, only to smoothly push back in,
finding the spot once more, which made Jean cry out.
A choked sound somewhere between arousal and
something else that Jean probably thought was discomfort,
as he struggled to decide whether this felt incredibly
good or just too fucking intense.
pushed against Jean's leg, to make him lift his hips,
and Jean managed to comply, shuddering body not completely
in his control. His cock was hard, seemingly having
decided the quandary for Jean.
hand on Jean's cock, stroking in a leisurely way, the
intensity lay in the finger that moved and searched,
angled and pushed, until Dan sped up the stroking slightly,
the moment a second finger joined the first. This made
Jean groan out again, his lips were parted, and he was
breathing fast, noisily. Blinded, helpless, but he didn't
protest, didn't beg, struggling to come to terms with
that intense sensation that seemed so powerful it was
borderline pain. His weight on knees and shoulders,
he pushed into the hand as much as he could in that
position that opened him up even more, panting. In the
low light, he was a strong blond body wrecked by need,
and covered in a sheen of sweat. A body that had lost
its distinguishing features, and Dan was fully aware
that what he saw could have been another body - before
hatred, love and pledges and without any scars.
down, Dan reached one-handed for the lube, while the
two fingers were deeply embedded. Squeezing some onto
his hand, he once again closed his fingers around the
rock-hard cock, slick with precum already, now slippery
and smooth while he stroked slowly. He pulled out his
fingers, attempting to add a third, carefully pushing
back in, widening slowly, waiting for acceptance, then
angling sharply and touching just right, but with more
sounds turned into something desperate, sounding like
Jean was being tortured, but his cock left no doubt
about the fact that it was lust. "D
he panted against the mattress. "Fuck me, but
Dan almost jerked at these words, immediately transported
from fascinated arousal to fully-fledged lust. Fuck
Jean. Have his arse, at last. Fuck him and make him
cum and feel the body shudder under him, giving what
he'd wanted for a long time. The stroking gained in
intensity, and so did the thrusts of his fingers. "No
..." Dan murmured, holding himself back for a moment
longer, "but I will make you cum."
True to his word, he increased the intensity of his
stroking the next second, in sync now with the thrust
of his fingers. Both designed to force Jean over the
tensed up, cried out, despair, relief, lust so intense
he had no way to deal with it in any other way but to
lose his mind, his control, his cool, and spilled across
Dan's hand. He sounded like he was sobbing, clenching
around the fingers, the whole man deeply shaken, helpless,
the veins on his arms in stark relief, flushed and sweaty.
Wrecked by spasms.
watched him, painfully erect, but hell, this was more
important, better, even, and he carefully withdrew,
swiftly wiping his hands, when Jean crashed. He pulled
the blindfold off, fingers carding through the short,
sweaty hair, and he lay down beside him, caressing the
body. Heated and damp, and shuddering.
needed long minutes to stir again, during which Dan
unlocked the cuffs and took them off. Jean then twisted
around to turn onto his back, shifting away from the
wet patch underneath. "You?" he asked with
a raw voice.
okay. Watching you blew my mind if not my cock."
Dan grinned, a warm, tender grin, reaching out to place
his hand onto Jean's shoulder.
kissed his fingers, then shuffled closer to kiss Dan's
lips, hands reaching out to holds him close. "Want
or a blowjob?"
don't mind, what would you rather?" Pressed against
Jean, bodies touching all the way.
laughed. "'Don't mind'? Yeah, right." He pushed
against Dan's shoulder, who was laughing, to make him
stretch out on the bed, got on top of him, kissing him
again and then kissing his way down the body. Taking
his time to look at the cock, then up to Dan, grinning.
Then he bent down, taking it between his lips, sucking
and licking with abandon - heated up by what Dan had
done to him, possibly as a way to say 'thank you', or
maybe all inhibitions had been swept away by his own
orgasm. Dan's reaction was almost instantaneous, as
if he suddenly registered that he had been aroused for
a long time. Release came swiftly, far sooner than expected,
and with a suppressed groan, remembering how Jean had
sounded, how he had begged, his desperate, breathless
voice, and Jean didn't shy away, instead took him deeper,
swallowing and licking him clean afterwards.
lay panting, one arm flung above his head, the other
loosely connected to Jean. Jean came up again and lay
down right next to him, kissing his shoulder and arm.
"Guess I get now why you and Solange and Vadim
love getting fucked", he murmured.
still closed, Dan lay grinning for a while before he
turned his head to look at Jean. "And? Does that
change your mind?"
now, my mind's not even there", Jean murmured,
kissing his chest.
reached up and touched Dan's cheek, smiling. "Let
me think about it", he murmured, as if he'd realized
it was a cop-out and Dan had seen right through it.
"Shit, it does feel
grinned, "it's okay, you can think about it, as
long as you like. Just don't forget that it does feel
good and that it isn't about submitting, just about
getting off, aye?"
his head to kiss the hand that was caressing his cheek,
Dan yawned. "Do you think they are coming to get
us at some stage or can we risk a snooze?"
risk it." Jean nuzzled closer, resting his head
on Dan's shoulder, bodies touching, hand flat on the
scars on his abs. "She knows this place is off
you are sure she has no idea?" Angling for a blanket,
Dan managed to throw it over them.
sure as hell won't ask her whether she knows."
Jean laughed softly.
good point." Dan laughed, then yawned again, eyes
falling shut. "Wake me when it's time to shag Vadim."
laughed and relaxed at his side, drifting off with him.
returned to the main house later, deep in the night,
to get cleaned up and rest some more, this time with
their respective partners. When Solange went off to
the long promised shoot for a few days, Dan, Vadim and
Jean shared the same bed and when she returned, Jean
had clearly regained most of his equilibrium, which
made her hug Dan one night and kiss him, almost causing
him to flush in return.
their good-byes at last, under vows of not making it
take that long before they'd meet again. Jean promised
he would be drumming up interest amongst his former
comrades for Dan's idea. An idea which had over the
course of their time together matured from Special Forces
Association to Spa, the term invented by one of them,
they couldn't even remember, because SFA or Sfa sounded
stupid, and Spa would be inconspicuous to civilian ears.
arrived at Dan's family just in time for Christmas Eve,
laden with parcels and an overabundance of gifts, because
Dan hadn't been able to help himself. He'd gone on the
first shopping spree in his life, when they'd arrived
in Glasgow, and had spent a day buying too many gifts
for Duncan, Mhairi and his nephews. Vadim said nothing,
just smiled a little and indulged Dan, who didn't have
much of a clue what to get everyone and thus got one
of everything that caught his interest, 'just in case'.
got into contact with the Glaswegian couple, still together
and still living in the same flat with its impressive
high ceilings, and who were delighted to hear from then
again, making time in their pre-Christmas schedule for
a little session of re-acquaintance. A session that
left Dan hungry for more - but not with anyone, only
someone. And he was determined to set some ideas into
turned out to be everything either of them could have
hoped for, and there wasn't a single awkward moment
when everyone retired the first night. It was just natural
that Dan and Vadim had been placed in the guest room
together, sharing the same double bed. A fact the nephews
were glad about, because it meant they could all keep
their rooms. Besides, they had been plied with a plethora
of gifts - which had made Duncan and Mhairi cringe somewhat,
but accept the abundance once they'd realised why Dan
had gone so overboard.
Year was a far more raucous affair than Vadim had imagined,
the whole village celebrated Hogmanay with a band, plenty
of whisky and haggis, neeps and tattis for all, singing
Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight and everyone
seemingly hugging everyone else, while the fireworks
went off into the clear cold sky above the majestic
had never thought that anything so domestic could feel
so good, but when he went to sleep at the crack of dawn,
filled with food and drink, he wrapped around Vadim
and was simply happy. Once a peasant, always a peasant
- and at one with his roots, for the first time in a