1996, New Zealand
they arrived much, much later in New Zealand, the island
was lush and green with late summer, and Vadim took
a deep breath of the pure air. Nothing quite like it.
He picked up the car where they'd left it, and drove
the half hour to the farm.
Williams was suffering more from jet lag and change
of seasons than Vadim, even though he was valiantly
battling on. He hadn't been an officer all his life
for nothing. Still, when they arrived at the farm he
was very glad to be shown to the guest room, where he
retired to soon thereafter.
called Dan, told them they'd just arrived, then went
for a bout of exercise to help his body work off the
flight. After that he slept for a while, having told
the neighbours they were back and he appreciated that
they'd filled up the fridge and freezer with food, since
their housekeeper was on holiday.
doctor did not emerge before the next twelve hours,
which still played havoc with his body clock, but at
least he was refreshed and ready to start. He suggested
to Vadim to choose a particular area in the house where
they worked. An area that was not full of connotations
and not laden with images and memories, least of all
of his partner.
chose the large living room - the most memory-laden
thing there was Szandor's antique sword on the stand,
but that was such an old memory that he didn't think
it would do any harm.
they settled down on the leather sofas with the couch
table between them, Dr Williams handed Vadim a simple
pad of lined paper and a pen. "You might prefer
a laptop, but I don't own one."
I am fairly old-fashioned, too. Writing by
hand is more deliberate." Vadim placed the pad
down on the table, sliding forward on the sofa. "What
Williams smiled and settled back. "I gave you the
paper so that you may write down your experiences and
your memories. As much as comes to mind. What we are
trying to do is create a timeline, without any gaps."
memories? My whole life, or the two years?"
the two years, and, if it has an impact on what happened,
we need to fill in the background from your life before.
Who you were, what you did, who you liaised with, that
sort of thing. However, first of all we need to concentrate
on the trauma. You need to come to terms with the full
reality of it, and no longer believe that you have it
under control with your current coping strategies. We
should start by you telling me what coping strategies
you have been using."
ignored it. Tried to." Vadim looked
at the pad. "Kept my distance. Tried to stay in
Williams nodded. "You need to accept that this
strategy was not actually a coping mechanism at all.
If you're still having nightmares, still having flashbacks,
and still suffering symptoms arising from PTSD, then
your strategies are not working for you. You must push
yourself past your comfort zone, into an area you have
avoided for so long. Imagine it like this: your memories
are attached to a rubber band, and the more you push
the memories away, the more they spring back at you.
Your strategies have tightened the rubber band, and
make it pull back more each time you push it away from
you. Memories are concrete, they are lodged in your
brain and they cannot be erased, nor are they going
anywhere. The exposure therapy will turn these painful
memories into what they actually are, just memories
of bad things. You will no longer ignore them, but accept
them and come to terms with them being part of your
past, but without the fear and pain associated with
them." He gestured towards the notebook. "You
will write about your trauma each day at set times for
a few minutes, or as long as you can bear, and we will
talk after you have written. You will also read what
you have written, several times over, until the horror
slowly recedes, before relaxing for a while. In addition,
you will set yourself 'dares' that go beyond your comfort
level." He tilted his head upwards, "tell
me, what are you the least comfortable with?"
the memories?" Vadim felt a sudden, painful tensing
in his chest. "How I
submitted. How I broke."
On my knees, his hand patting my head like that of a
see, and what situations are you least comfortable with
since then? In your life?"
control." Vadim thought, eyes fixed on the pad.
"And, ah, when Dan is moving to get another guy
sexually, I mean. It's awkward."
Williams made a note on his own pad. "What do you
mean, 'moving'? And what does it make you feel?"
" Jean, Beauvais,
George. "Anger towards the other man. I guess I
am jealous, or
that I'm not enough, maybe that
these men are
better in a way, that they are
less broken than I am. I feel awkward dealing with them.
I don't want them in my life
they don't become
friends like they do with Dan."
you feel angry and jealous, or awkward, what do you
think is the cause of those feelings?"
maybe. Maybe just what it is, jealousy. That he could
leave me for somebody else. You know, he's 'friends'
with a guy who's
younger, more joyful
more like him in many ways. They'd be a good match,
you never told him?" Anything the doctor said was
a careful question, non judgmental and leaving the answer
pointless. We never were monogamous. It doesn't work
like a marriage
and my marriage was a mess, too.
There's no point accusing him of anything, he swears
it's just physical, and I know it is for him, and, well,
often enough, it's actually us and the third guy."
Vadim didn't meet the doctor's eyes. Discussing his
sex life - the threesomes, or even just the sex - felt
strange. He really didn't want to disgust this man.
A woman might have been easier. "He doesn't get
it, and I've never told him I am uncomfortable. It's
like taking a risk
an unnecessary risk. And in
many cases, I'm the third wheel, too. These guys are
in lust with Dan, not me. I'm
I'm never getting
emotionally involved - they don't become my friends.
I often feel I'm not really there."
you will have to take some risks, to be authentic to
your feelings and to give those you deal with a chance
to respond to those feelings. This is something you
will have to learn: to express what you feel, negative
feelings, as well as positive feelings. You will have
to learn to set boundaries, but you will also have to
understand that your carer needs to set boundaries,
sorry, I should have explained. Partners of sufferers
are usually called carers."
Vadim looked up, smiling slightly. "He'd hate that
term. He says he doesn't want to be my carer, but my
it's not easy, is it? I
both. And when I feel especially bad, I really just
need a carer, because there's
no room for anything
it is not easy, not easy at all, and we are asking an
incredible lot of your partner. This is why communication
is so important. In fact, I do believe it would be helpful
if, at the end of this, you let Mr McFadyen read through
account of how I was tortured? Could
want to read that?"
you think Mr McFadyen would not be able to stomach that?"
The doctor raised his eyes. "It is asking a lot
from anyone to take care of a PTSD sufferer, but I am
confident that after these three months you will be
able to deal with the effects so much better."
The doctor smiled, "if you would like me to, I
am happy to call Mr McFadyen and explain a few things
sounds like a good idea, sir. I don't think I've
succeeded in telling him what it feels like
that I actually tried. I didn't
push the issue.
I just wanted to move on."
you blame him?" The question came out of the blue
and as sharply as a sniper's bullet.
him for what?"
can understand that. Nobody gets torture. I wish he'd
read me better, yes, and leave me alone, but it's not
his fault. He just
wants me to be his partner,
and sometimes I just
Williams smiled slightly, making a few notes. "Well,
let us get onto the exposure therapy. We will get back
to what we have just talked about later." He nodded.
"During exposure therapy, expect to have an increase
in symptoms. This is short term pain, for long term
gain. It is effective, it is proven, and it factually
lessens the effect of trauma upon the mind and body."
Vadim looked at the pad. "Writing?"
What you do is pick the worst trauma you have, and write
about it first. You might get scared, but if you don't
go with the worst one first, then you might talk yourself
out of writing about it. You can write for a few minutes,
or you can write for half an hour if you desire. Only
you know how much you can take. If you feel uncomfortable,
don't stop at that point. Only stop when you get truly
distressed." Dr Williams made a few bold strokes
on his pad and turned the drawing over for Vadim to
look at. "You see this scale? This is the so-called
SUDS scale. SUDS stands for Subjective Units of Disturbance.
It is a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst.
You must write until you reach the levels of distress
around seven to eight. Do not stop before that, but
neither overextend yourself into a nine or ten, which
could mean critical breakdown." The doctor smiled.
"Does this make sense?"
couldn't write at
higher levels", Vadim
murmured. In that much distress he lost control of his
body. Shaking. Vomiting. Wanting to fight, punch
He inhaled and reached for the pen, concentrating not
on his fear but the rules the doctor had set, and the
movement, the feeling of the pen. "Short bursts."
He took the pad and rested it on his knees. The worst
trauma. Being alone, chained up, in a dark room, feeling
very clearly that he was going insane. No. Konstantinov
having broken him. How he'd let him inside, how he'd
wanted Konstantinov to finish the job. Kneeling at his
feet. Grateful it was over. Grateful he'd be killed
now, or sent to a regular prison. He'd wanted to die.
He'd wanted nothing else but to die.
your time." The doctor's voice was quiet and understanding.
"We have all the time you need. Would you like
me to stay or to leave you alone?"
shook his head, noticed his knuckles were white. The
words were awkward, each one forced, feeling much like
barbed wire slipping through his balled fists. He
made me want to die. I wanted him to kill me. I thought
that would be mercy. He made me beg for death, and I
truly wanted it. I felt unworthy when he didn't give
me death. I'd have killed myself given half a chance.
Maybe he waited for that to happen. He inhaled again,
feeling breathless, and his fist was clenched so hard
he wasn't sure he could open it again. Shame, anguish,
Dr Williams said quietly.
tried, and it felt like there was no space in his lungs,
like they'd collapsed. It took him forever to remember
that exhaling was always the best way to go, exhale.
He'd held his breath, and exhaling was far easier. The
inhale then followed naturally.
again when you are ready." The doctor looked at
Vadim, nodding slightly. "You're not alone, and
you can do this. Give yourself time, because this is
what we have: time. When you are done, you reread everything
you have written until it no longer seems threatening
to the point of nausea and panic. This is when you begin
seeing those words for what they are: memories."
put me off writing forever", Vadim remarked, wryly,
forcing himself to breathe. Time. As much time as it
that day, as promised, Dr Williams called Dan, who was
immediately apprehensive, but hid the reaction when
he took the phone through to the lounge. His family
respected privacy, but he somehow felt he needed to
close the door behind him.
is Vadim?" Nothing else mattered to him.
is why I am calling." The doctor's voice was kind,
and Dan's alertness went back down a notch. "As
Vadim's partner, I would like to explain to you what
we are working on over the next three months and what
you can expect."
frowned, searched for a cigarette, while concentrating
on the conversation. "What do you mean, 'expect'?"
will become clear shortly. First off, I'd like to explain
the therapy that Vadim is going through, so that you
have an idea of what is happening. Would you like to
course!" Dan lit the cigarette.
can only tell you generically what the therapy entails,
but cannot give you any detailed information. What Mr
Krasnorada tells me is confidential between doctor and
patient. I would hope, though, that in the end he might
decide to share what he has learned with you."
deeply, Dan leaned back. He'd take anything as it came,
as long as he could stop living the life of a carer
who did not know what and who he was caring for. Helplessness,
how much he'd always hated that. "I don't expect
you to breach your confidentiality."
doctor then proceeded to explain to Dan what the therapy
entailed. Dan was frowning throughout, sitting up straighter
when Dr Williams came to the part about symptoms and
emotions getting much worse during the therapy, before
the eventual long term gain would pay off the short
term pain. Dan made very few comments, mainly listening
and committing everything the doctor said to his memory.
Asking, then, what PTSD actually was from the doctor's
point of view, and he received a thorough explanation,
which finally made sense to him. At last he began to
understand why Vadim reacted the way he did. Why he
usually seemed to cope well and almost appeared as 'if
nothing had ever happened', until either the rage hit,
or another low. Dan had a feeling the conversation was
about to end, when Dr Williams paused for a moment.
McFadyen, I have to tell you something that you might
not wish to hear."
sat up ramrod straight and the dread was coming back
like an old foe. "Aye?"
have to understand, Mr McFadyen, that you should not
waste time in thinking and hoping that your partner
will ever be cured and that he will return to the person
he was before the trauma. One does not 'get over' PTSD,
it is a lifelong condition. What Mr Krasnorada will
achieve, though, and I do my utmost that this will be
the case, is being able to manage the trauma and lead
a fulfilling life. However, he will always need to work
on himself to stay healthy, and there will always be
some matters that he will need to avoid."
sat in silence, tense, just listening to the words.
Not seeing anything, even though he stared out of the
realise that you do not wish to be a lifelong carer,
and no partner and lover would want to be that, but,
you have to realise, that this is what you are.
I am being cruel now, I know, but I assume that a man
like you prefers the straightforward truth. Do you,
Dan's voice was pressed, hard to form thoughts, let
because you have to ask yourself if you can be both:
the lover and the carer, because Mr Krasnorada will
always need both. Can you live with that?"
shuddered, he didn't know what to say. All his hopes
and wishes came crashing down in the reality check the
doctor forced upon him. Never again. Never how it had
been. Never again the lover, the partner, the
but could he even remember what that was like? A short
time, back in Kabul, before the KGB destroyed them,
and it felt like a lifetime ago. Now, they had a house
together, a business, family and friends. A life. Every
day, every night. Was it worth being both? Was it worth
re-evaluating his entire life and accept the truth?
Dan cleared his throat, his voice quiet. "I
want to." Want to try.
am glad to hear." Dr William's voice was warm.
"I'd also like to tell you that as the carer, you
will have to learn some behaviour measures as well.
With a PTSD sufferer the rage might still happen at
times, despite the therapy, when the fight or flight
reaction is triggered. The same goes for the depression
and the anger and seclusion. If the mind falls into
familiar thought patterns, they spin out of control,
and out it flows. This means that you will have to deal
with this by setting boundaries. I will be able to give
you further help. The most important issue here is that
PTSD is not an excuse to abuse anyone. Everyone should
have, keep and enforce boundaries, no matter what, and
everyone is responsible for their actions. The sufferer,
as well as the carer."
twitched at the word, holding the phone in a death grip.
That word was hard to accept, and so was the concept.
But he'd be working on handling it, he had no other
will Vadim need to set
his own as well?"
I should think so, but all of this should be discussed
after the intense therapy is over."
months, an eternity, and Dan felt nauseous. Finally
asking the question that was more crucial than all of
the others. "But will he love me?"
Mr McFadyen, I can't answer." The doctor spoke
quietly, with compassion in his voice. "Only Mr
Krasnorada will have the answer to this."
" Dan swallowed hard. "Thank you, doctor."
He put the phone down and sat in silence for a long
It felt like he had to skin his arms to get to the blood,
then use that to put words down. The words were all
about shame, death, fear. They were about being helpless,
about wanting to kill, maim, rape in revenge, and sometimes
it got so bad that he barely managed it to the bathroom
before he threw up. Ending up, again and again, on his
knees, vomiting out everything he'd ever eaten and could
remember to have ever eaten. It was a fine line to watch,
and it was hard, very hard, to stay within the manageable
it was like he couldn't stop and triggered himself over
the edge, other times, he miscalculated the amount he
could take. He cried a lot, which was fucking embarrassing.
It was like there was still Major Krasnorada, somewhere,
and he was disgusted at himself for the weakness. How
mere memories could hurt him, how deep they cut, and
how impossible it was that they were just memories.
day, Vadim flushed the toilet, spit out bile into the
wash basin and opened the tap, filling his hands with
the cold water. Relieved that it was over, his stomach
only churning now, not heaving, knowing he'd be better
once he'd rested. Half bent over, he brought his wet
hands up to his face, and suddenly it hit him
mind derailed fully, he could feel insanity, because
suddenly he remembered something that hadn't happened,
but he remembered it with complete clarity. Drowning.
that wrestled him down, dunked his head under, he was
swallowing the dirty water, their jeering blanked out
from his ears by the water.
knees gave in, like they had in prison, and he stared
against the wall, mind undecided whether this
was real, now, whether he was sitting here or was somewhere
else entirely, because he couldn't trust his memories
Williams knocked on the door and peered in. He was always
hovering close when Vadim rushed to the bathroom, always
made sure that he never dehydrated, gently berated him
at times that he should listen more carefully to the
warning signs of overstepping the SUDs, and always had
an isotonic drink at hand and some food. He was a medical
doctor, after all.
Krasnorada?" he stepped inside, concern evident
in his face.
knew the doctor was real, even though he doubted himself.
drowned me. I didn't remember",
sudden hardness flashed across the doctor's face, before
he came closer, and his hand merely hovered above a
shoulder. Always giving distance while being available.
"Do you feel you can write down what they did,
or can you tell me? Whichever one is easier."
men who beat me. The water
they used it to bring
me round." Vadim was shaking violently, felt his
teeth chatter. "They drowned me in it. Again
His stomach heaved. "And again. Ko
Vadim gestured, didn't want to say the name, "He
had a stop watch. Said
just taking your time, you are familiar with the concept.
alright, breathe first, then try to tell me, explain
to me what happened."
didn't remember! I didn't remember this!" Vadim
shook his head. "I don't ... what else can I not
remember? What ... what can I trust down there?"
there? Do you mean your core, your memories?" The
doctor smiled a little, holding a hand out to Vadim
to help him up, if he wanted to. "You will be able
to trust all of this, when you do remember. I suggest
right now for you to come back into the living room,
take a blanket to keep warm and I prepare a tea. Then
I'll sit with you while you try to write down what you
reached up and took the hand. He didn't actually need
help, but having some form of touch
make him feel real. He stood, feeling how weak his body
was, like he had actually barely escaped a drowning.
good approach to anything." He
gave a weak smile, but he could still feel the rough
hands on him, the sheer force that had overpowered his
strength. Those guys had been very, very strong. And
he'd been weakened and hurting from the beating.
sat down and wrapped himself in the blanket, sitting
on the couch where he usually sat, then reached for
the pad. He hated the writing, but he'd stopped fighting
it. Too much soldier still to not follow orders, he
thought. Or maybe he just trusted Dr Williams more than
his own responses. The man was becoming more to him
than his father had ever been
or rather, somewhere
in the same category, like his father in a time when
they'd trusted and loved each other. When his father's
opinion had been welcome guidance, in the time before
rebellion and the fights, the intellectual sparring
that they'd done all the time. Like his father, but
without the problems.
set pen to paper. Drowning. It was really hard to describe.
It made him shake and sweat, but he did it.
stayed with his brother for over three weeks, until
he was slowly going insane. No contact with Vadim, the
doctor had called once more and explained that it would
be better that way and that distance was what Vadim
needed. For just one moment the thought had flashed
through Dan's mind, if anyone cared what he needed,
but he discarded it, didn't allow it to settle. He might
be fucked up, physically, but whatever had happened
to him mentally, he was lucky enough to deal with it.
he had settled in, trying to keep busy and trying to
be as good a brother and uncle, as he could be, while
failing miserably most of the time, but his family didn't
let him feel it. Not even when he got cabin fever and
neither after one of Dr William's weekly calls, when
Dan didn't speak to anyone for hours and just stared
out of the window.
couldn't work, didn't have the nerves to settle down
and try string thoughts together for a presentation,
and when one day Jean called, Dan asked him if he would
mind a visit, and he would explain what was going on,
but not on the phone.
was in the fourth week that Dan left for France.
March 1996, France
the journey to France Dan swore to himself that he would
try to cast all his worries aside. While Jean was his
best friend beside the Baroness, he didn't want to put
a burden on him. Stupid, perhaps, but he hadn't spoken
to anyone else, not even Maggie, and everything the
doctor had told him was still bottled up. He didn't
know how to deal with it, and least of all with the
notion of being a carer. Carer and lover, the
doctor had said, but what did that mean? To give up
- forever - on the notion that Vadim would ever be the
man again he had once loved ... but then again, was
he the man he'd been in Kabul? Perhaps, at the core,
but would he want to be the man he was when they'd first
'met'? He didn't have any answers, and the thoughts
and worries remained stuck in his mind, unable to voice
them and share his fears with anyone, while trying to
come to an understanding. Perhaps being with an old
friend would help.
took the train from Charles de Gaulle airport, but when
he arrived at the station, there was no Jean. With a
shrug, wondering if he got the timings wrong, he found
himself a taxi and managed in his rusty French to find
his way to the village and the house. Leaning on the
cane while the driver helped with the -Spartan - luggage.
No more than one large backpack. Not a military bergan
anymore, but a state of the art, expensive one, from
an exclusive outdoor shop. Some things had changed,
was Solange who opened the door and Dan smiled at her,
thinking for a moment that she really was a vision to
behold and if he were still into ladies he could have
been tempted by her androgynous beauty. But as it was,
he was more keen on her husband.
you look more beautiful every time I see you."
Dan smiled his best and most charming smile.
gave a sweet laugh and actually blushed. "And you
are still drop dead gorgeous."
me kiss your hand, my lady, before I deliver a kick
to that husband of yours for having forgotten all about
dear, he raced off not long ago, he must have got the
time wrong. We should give him a call." Solange
extended her hand and smiled, allowing Dan to take hold
of her hand and kiss it. "Not every man here has
your gentle manners. But men are sometimes cuter without
them, anyway." She winked and Dan grinned. He really
did have a soft spot for that lady.
your presence that has this effect on me." Dan
came up from the kiss and smiled. Quite enjoying a spade
of the old manners. He turned his head when he heard
the sound of a car approaching.
was Jean, with a flushed face and an apologetic grin.
"I fell asleep after lunch."
are getting old, mate." Dan laughed and went to
pull Jean into a tight embrace. It was good to feel
the solidity of his body, the physical presence was
comforting. Dan hadn't realised how much he really starved.
laughed sweetly, then smiled at the two men. "I
hope you won't miss me, but I have to be at a shoot
today. I am sure you two boys can entertain yourselves."
will do my very best." Dan grinned, when she went
to kiss her husband, before she returned into the hallway
to pick up a bag. She gave a small wave and walked to
the big shining car in the driveway, where she fussed
around a bit and then got in to head to the city. Another
small wave, then the Mercedes was gone.
turned and looked at Dan with a face-splitting grin.
"There. You're on your own, and so am I. What's
on the menu?"
hid the sudden twitch at the 'on your own', then shrugged,
"That depends on one question: you still interested
in a romp with a decrepit old man?" He smirked,
shades-shielded eyes looking Jean up and down.
grinned. "With your heartbreaker-shades on? Anytime."
He glanced towards the road, then nodded towards the
house. "Unless you object to double adultery?"
adultery." Dan followed Jean's glance, "I'd
call it wife-swapping. Just that Vadim would probably
kill me if he heard me say that." Vadim. Would
he? Would he do any of that sort of thing to his
everything. I doubt Solange would
have been Vadim's type
before." Jean pondered
that for a while. "No. Doesn't work. Makes me feel
nothing but a gentleman around her."
propos Vadim, why did he stay in New Zealand while you're
gallivanting about Europe?"
made an evasive gesture, his face suddenly serious,
and even Jean, who was about to pick up Dan's backpack,
seemed to notice.
alright with you guys?"
at home with a doctor, shrink, whatever, and in therapy.
Intensive therapy. He
had an incident at the
airport, a month ago." Dan didn't look at Jean,
but at the house. "It'll be at least three months.
haven't spoken to him for a month, but the
doctor gave me a call each week."
damn. That doesn't sound too good. You must be going
voice was uncharacteristically dead. "I don't want
to talk about it right now, okay? But I wouldn't mind
it if you took my mind off it."
That's what friends are for, right?"
Dan made his way up the steps. "Anyway, you tell
me, since I haven't seen you for, what, forever, how
the fuck are you? Got your sporadic emails alright,
but was wondering, didn't sound all that perky. You
thinking of dropping the job?"
close that last time. Friendly fire kind
of stuff, makes you wonder where they train the kids
these days." Jean shrugged.
stopped, leaned against the wall at the entrance and
pushed the shades off his eyes, finally looking at Jean
without the dark tinted barrier, "you're getting
old, mate. I've been saying it's time to quit this shit
and come join the Spa, and not just as an ex-Legionnaire
now Merc. I could do with a club secretary." He
this house? Give me another year or so I can manage
the costs better. I was thinking to maybe restart the
vineyard, but that would take years and years, and I'm
not quite sure I'm enough of a farming type to follow
through with it. And, who knows, maybe a family to top
it all off before I retire. But not quite yet."
shook his head, "You're thirty-four, mate. You're
still tough, fit, can do anything you like, but I warn
you, the closer you get to forty, the longer every injury
takes to heal, and every pain aches threefold."
He pushed himself off the wall and walked through the
door, holding it open for Jean and his luggage. He'd
long given up the need to demonstrate that he could
carry it on his own.
for keeping count." Jean winced. "Shit, where
did all that time go? I feel like, what, twenty-four?"
if next time you're just this one smidgen too slow,
or the kid is this one bit too stupid. You want to go
down in a blaze of glory? Or do you want to spend the
rest of your life with your wife? Remember Pascal
I hear you. I know the theory. The practice is the hard
the vast living room, Dan stopped at one of the white
leather couches and leaned against it. He looked at
Jean with a serious expression. "Are you worried
you end up a burnt out adrenaline junkie like me? Bored
" Jean pressed his lips together, thinking,
or maybe fighting the first response. "You are
not bored with life. You have that consulting stuff
going. You're living with Vadim", he smiled, decidedly
playfully, "that should keep you on your toes.
I don't know. I know when I'm here, I'm
itching to go back, when I'm there, I want to be here.
There are other things I could be, like, you know, a
father. Solange's gig is paying better and better, if
she goes on like that, she'll make more than I do, and
I'm not sure I could live that down."
shook his head. "Don't be such a stupid arsehole.
You know that I was fucked up for a year and almost
lost everything. You have the chance to make a change
before you get to the stage where you still function,
have shitloads of experience, but every job hurts. Besides,
if you want to go for a family, do it now. You're thirty-four,
and Solange is
Jean moved a few steps and pulled out a wine bottle,
glancing at the label, but listening intently.
age, then. Just the right time to go for the big change
and become all domestic before it gets too difficult
to take the step and leave the adrenaline and the 'easy
life' behind." Dan sat down on the sofa, placed
the cane onto the floor and stretched out his legs.
"I hated being out, because I hadn't adjusted my
attitude, while Vadim had over-adjusted his own."
selected two red wine glasses, placed them on the couch
table and opened the bottle, then set it down to allow
the wine some time while Dan continued.
I'm trying to say is that if you continue seeing yourself
as the cool dude with the dangerous job, then you won't
get to have a family. Not everyone has an 'immaculate
conception' like me, aye?" Joking about it was
the best way to deal with it, and the little girl was
damn cute. "Hell, you might not even make fifty,
and I'd be bloody pissed off if you fucked yourself
out of this world."
worry, the last thing I am is suicidal." Jean grinned.
"Granted, I never thought I'd make it past thirty,
and now it seems pretty likely I actually grow old enough
to pay off the house and all the other stuff. Just -
what to do with the time, that's the question."
don't you start your own business? You're not cut out
to stay here, I'm not either. If you started your own
security company, small but exclusive, with ex-special
forces contacts all over the world, you could use the
Spa for that. You could run the business till you're
old and decrepit." Dan grinned while casually dropping
his shades from his hair onto the table.
poured the wine and offered one glass, as casual as
he'd offered a whisky tumbler, and touched Dan's fingers
as he did. "Me in a business suit? Damn. And I
thought her shows and shootings were bad."
took the wine. "A security company that actually
offers close security. Like Armoured Group, for example.
I know a guy who's working for them, used to be a Royal
Green Jackets RSM, and he is raking in the money, doing
close security runs in Iraq. Six weeks on, three weeks
off. However, what do you think the company owners earn?"
as much as a pimp makes off his whores. Cut of the money
and no risk." Jean grinned, gently touching his
glass to Dan's, complete with a deep look into his eyes.
"How long does it take to set something up like
that? A couple years? It would be more competition for
you, don't forget that."
took a mouthful of the wine while Jean sat down on the
couch, extending an arm behind Dan, and sipping on the
wine. "No competition at all, completely different
business. In fact, you could profit from us and we could
profit from you." Taking another sip before leaning
his head against the arm in his back. "What do
let his fingers make contact with the place between
Dan's shoulder blades, slowly circling there, touch
light but noticeable. "Wouldn't mind making a fortune.
CNN looks like there's more action, and definitely enough
people that are scared the world goes to shit."
you could become a vintner." Dan laughed and let
his head fall back. It was good not to think, just for
a little while, not to think and not to worry. He grinned
with closed eyes, moving into the touch like a cat stretching
along a hand. "Plenty of wars, and that's one thing
that's secure: we'll never run out of wars and thus
you'll never run out of business. Then again, the world
won't run out of people who drink wine, either."
leaned in a bit closer. "Means I wouldn't have
to hire out my ass anymore."
his head to the side, Dan opened his eyes. "As
far as I remember, that was a rather nice arse."
grinned. "So far, nobody complained."
winked, "I think I should reacquaint myself with
it." Raising his glass to his lips he took a large
sip, relishing the taste. There was something about
the taste of red wine and Jean.
pursed his lips, smirking to himself. "Still the
same sexy bastard. I guess you'll never change."
He placed his hand on Dan's thigh and leaned in to kiss
Dan, tasting and smelling of wine, playfully licking
his lips. "Anything you have in mind, Mad Dog?"
Mad Dog any longer." Dan smiled, breathing in Jean's
scent. He blinked once, slowly. "In all the time
that I've known you, have I ever fucked your arse with
my tongue?" He flashed a grin.
inhaled sharply, surprised at the question - and clearly,
that was something that was actually new to him. "Fuck",
he said, voice thick. "And here I was, planning
to go slowly and give you time."
Dan laughed, the lines around his dark eyes crinkled,
gleaming with amusement. "I am forty-seven, I don't
think you need to give me time."
call that courting, Dan. You know? Raising the stakes.
Like a game of poker." Jean looked at Dan. "You
want to do that? As in
depends on how clean your arse is." Dan raised
his glass once more, swirling the ruby liquid in a thoughtful
I am showered, but we could check out the new hot tub
in the cellar."
" Dan grinned, took a large gulp from his
wine. "In that case, consider the hot tub your
courting. You should know by now that I'm crap at that
courting thing most of the time."
I have a national honour to uphold. Good food and good
manners, and of course good sex."
finished the wine, moved his arms to the side, and tipped
his head back as if crucified. "Just snog me and
moved closer, hand running up to Dan's chest as he leaned
in to kiss Dan's lips, gentle, tender, with all the
time in the world, just relishing kissing.
Dan sighed, too content to do anything else. "It's
good to see you again. Very good." Pulling back
from the kiss for a moment, he smiled.
you." Jean's hands roaming across Dan's body, chest
and thigh, he broke the kiss to murmur, "Well,
in that case
" and dipped in again, tongue
running over Dan's teeth.
that case feed me, undress me, wine me, bathe me, and
indulge my every whim." Dan chuckled in the back
of his throat, hand going to Jean's shoulder, neck.
"The order's negotiable."
feed you, Dan, don't worry." Jean gave a husky
laugh and got up, hand still on Dan's chest before he
could reply to the innuendo. "Stay there."
He pulled the shirt over his head and discarded it on
the couch - chest lean, less tanned these days, which
suited him, skin smooth but for a few blonde hairs on
his chest. "Just want to get closer." He opened
his legs, left and right of Dan's, and sat down on his
thighs, knees digging into the back of the overstuffed
couch. "Sometimes, I make her sit on me like that.
I open my legs and just touch her. Nothing more. No
underwear helps there." Solange loved wearing skirts.
" Dan let out a sound that came suspiciously
close to a purr. "Don't you think that trousers
in that case are overrated?" His hands on Jean's
hips, they made their way up along the sides, towards
arms, then shoulders.
they?" Jean's hands moved behind Dan's back, pulled
the shirt free, began to unbutton it on the front, then
leaned in to kiss Dan's chest, smooth and carefully
groomed, while pulling the shirt down over his shoulders.
Momentarily implying restraints, he kissed the warm
skin of one shoulder, tracing his tongue down, close
to where the cloth began.
murmured with growing huskiness, "I doubt you'd
want to sit on me
glanced up. It was a speculative curiosity more than
revulsion or want.
grin had a few more dimensions to it. "In all those
years you were never interested in having anything more
than a finger ..." Dan waggled his brows, "or
a tongue up your arse. You have been very vocal about
this, many times. In fact, I remember a certain hotel
room in Italy, where you were rather adamant
finger I know." Jean kissed Dan's throat now, gentle,
sucking kisses that didn't let on more than respect
and tenderness. The need to taste and smell above anything
else, and it also gave him time to think. "I did
wonder about the rest
but then, virgins are bothersome.
They can't really let go."
moved his head forward, caught some of Jean's skin,
trailing his tongue up an arm, until he was eye to eye,
"well, you know, being trapped in my shirt is kind
Jean grinned. "I was about to say the same. Mind
some leather around the wrists? I'd even pull down your
trousers for you."
tilted his head, glanced up, pondering. "If you
did, that wouldn't be the first time in my life."
weirdo." Jean teased.
winked, "not a weirdo, just ex-SAS."
are a bunch of kinky bastards, then." Jean stretched
out and dug behind the couch, pulling out a set of leather
cuffs that could be linked through steel rings. "Guess
that tells you a lot about the history of this couch",
he murmured, grinning.
eyed the implements with one raised brow. "I have
the funny feeling it isn't you who wears them."
Of course not, he remembered the collar he'd found very
don't wear them because you started it." Jean smirked.
didn't." Dan grinned, "you trapped my arms."
But he allowed Jean to manhandle his body as if it belonged
to a puppet, because it was so good to give over control
and not to think.
" Jean finished pulling the shirt
off Dan, then opened the first cuff, placed it around
Dan's left wrist, and closed it, as casual as checking
webbing for full magazines. "The hook in the wall
isn't much of a challenge. Granted, Solange can struggle
as much as she likes, but you
" Second cuff,
and closed. "Probably only tense once, or maybe
twice, and the hook comes out." He connected the
cuffs in front of Dan, and gave another grin.
locked wrists fell into his lap. "Vadim told me
once that I'd still be lethal with my legs cut off."
Rattling the metal links between the cuffs, he tensed
his muscles, starting with shoulders then arms, running
down across pecs to abs. "Though I'll protest if
you try cut my legs off. They're fucked up, but I quite
like the look of them. Make me taller."
grinned and leaned in to kiss Dan's throat again, taking
hold of the ring between the cuffs.
raised his brows, "If you tie me to that hook over
there I might have to test if I really am still lethal."
want to see you stretched out", murmured Jean,
and pushed Dan's arms up, until the cuffs clicked into
place with a hook that the couch's back usually hid.
Dan tensed suddenly. "I thought it was a joke."
He tilted his head, didn't realise the motion was stretching
his body further, displaying smooth and scarred skin
alike over a still-muscular frame.
hook's a joke. Yes." Jean regarded Dan's body with
it?" Dan eyed Jean suspiciously, testing the hook
with a swift movement, and suddenly grinned. He could
feel it move; decoration, no more. "In that case
I won't have to kill you."
obliged." Jean's hands slid down to take Dan's
trousers and pull them off. Taking his time and making
this as luxurious as anything else. Removing shoes and
socks, baring Dan completely. Stretched Dan. He loved
have no right to be this sexy", Jean quipped and
reached for the bottle that still held a couple glasses
worth of red wine. He took a thoughtful sip, then grinned
sharply, and offered the bottle to Dan, by accident
or design spilling wine over Dan's chin, then trying
to catch the wine with his tongue.
poured more wine down Dan's chin, let it run down his
chest, over his shoulder, risking to stain the couch.
Then moved in, licking the wine off from where it started.
Dan's lips, down the throat and chest, kissing and licking,
showing hunger now, one hand on Dan's thigh steadying
shit." Dan groaned, rolled his head with the movement,
arched up towards Jean's lips. He didn't seem to be
able to remain still, a strumming tension consuming
him, residing deep within his stomach. He wasn't that
quick anymore with the old comrade lust, but he was
definitely saluting a greeting. "Don't do that."
glanced up, grinning. "What? You ticklish?"
" Dan felt stupid the moment he said
it, and grinned. "Don't mind me."
gave a dry chuckle against Dan's side. "I think
this Chateau Whatever just gets better from your skin."
He reached for the bottle again to take a mouthful,
swallowed a small amount of it, then placed his lips
to Dan's, offering. No sooner did Jean's lips touch
his own, when Dan's head moved forward, tasting, searching
and seeking with parted lips. Bitter-sweet taste of
wine, mixed with male, man, body and touch, taste, heat.
closed his eyes, didn't hear the sound from the back
of his throat, as his mind finally and mercifully went
moved back on Dan's thighs, knees left and right of
his hips, naked now as well, skin on skin on leather.
He kept kissing, devouring, building up more passion,
one arm around Dan's shoulders, the free hand moving
south, running over heated skin down to Dan's cock.
build-up was intoxicating, Dan's mind not there, not
clear, arching towards the hand, he wanted more, yet
less, and he barely noticed his whimper.
reached out to find the strategically placed bottle
of lube and a condom. Nervous, oh yes, he needed the
passion mainly for himself. To turn an idle thought
into reality. One chance now, and he'd act on it, simple.
He opened the foil pack and slid the condom down Dan's
cock, then squeezed lube into his hand and warmed it,
while keeping Dan's mind in that happy space of kissing
and wanting. He added more lube, then shifted his weight,
much the way Solange did, used to do and still sometimes
did. Didn't matter. But she had stoked his curiosity.
He moved over Dan's cock, kept it in place with a hand,
then tried to press down on it, remembered to press
and relax, and part of it actually got through the muscle,
much bigger, much more substantial than a finger. Damn.
That would burn. Relax.
Dan's head lifted and his eyes flew open. Lips parted,
he stared at Jean. "You ..." he couldn't talk
anymore, too much sensation and his body tensed, arched,
moved, wild yet tamed.
kept himself steady on Dan's shoulder, lips opened when
Dan moved, and he lowered more weight down, breaching
himself. "Shit. Burns. Like a fucking
he cursed, forcing himself to relax again, breathing.
because ..." Dan's breath came in erratic gasps.
you are one."
virgins aren't worth the fucking trouble."
Jean paused, gathering his courage. It was meant to
be good if he got deep enough. It was the getting there
that was a pain. "If you thrust, I'll kill you."
Jean grinned, closed his eyes and moved into another
kiss, allowing gravity to do some of the work. "Shit
guess I'm getting somewhere
His body tensed at the intrusion, the heat and size,
cock jumping against his front. Going slowly, then pushed
yes, you are." Dan was strumming with tension,
desperately fighting to keep himself from moving.
reached for the wine, taking several deep gulps, hoped
the alcohol would help, knew with the rational rest
of his brain that he could drink several bottles before
losing any control. Accepting Dan inside, knowing it
would hurt tomorrow, but hey, he'd been in so many firefights,
and it always hurt the next morning. No reason whatsoever
to not do it. Getting used to it - was just stretching
and a slight burn, and he was in control. It was alright.
It was pretty good, judging from Dan's face.
He rested on Dan's lap, feeling the full length inside
now, and relaxing, breathing. Solange could drive him
insane like this. He lifted a bit, then pushed down
again, slowly moving that cock inside, not sure whether
he liked this, but loving what it did to Dan. Liked
Dan stretched out like this, the stricken expression.
you can move, if you want to
Dan barely managed to gasp out the one syllable. A sheen
of sweat gathered on his body, turning his skin into
a gleaming plane of darkly tanned and deeply scarred
landscapes across tensed muscles. A body on edge, this
was mindblowingly, excruciatingly, torturously good.
"Thought I was your
laughed and leaned in for another kiss, moving his hips
slightly, just tilting them and grinding, like Solange
did, feeling something like a pressure/heat/burn/fullness.
Not unpleasant, somehow, but nothing that would make
him scream his head off. "Captive? Okay, if you
" Dan gasped at a particularly clever
movement that shot silver bullets from his cock through
torn-up guts right into his brain. "I think I do.
would be a bad moment
to say stop, I guess."
Jean grinned, idly running his hands down Dan's body,
aged as well as that wine, an acquired taste much like
wine, and definitely worth getting used to. Ages ago.
He didn't actually want to play the hardcore prisoner
game, but that was probably not what Dan meant. Or was
parting, Dan's head moved forward as much as he could,
before another movement made him groan. This was good,
so goddamned easy and light and without any extremes,
and no spikes nor blades of lust and greed. And no thinking.
Just no thinking. "Vadim
Shut up, Dan, shut the fuck up! Don't think! Scrunching
his eyes shut for a moment, he took in a sharp breath.
I imagine that bastard is quite a bit heavier",
quipped Jean, causing Dan to let out a huff of laughter.
Leaning his elbows on Dan's shoulders for a little more
support as he was starting to move more rhythmically.
It got better, still much preferred fucking an ass than
getting fucked, but it wasn't too bad. Moving just that
bit closer to trap his cock against Dan's stomach, cursing
under his breath as that started to work on him, the
sweat and the strength under that damp skin. Thinking,
suddenly, just how much Dan had to love the Russian
- the other Russian - that he'd think of him even now.
Strangely glad for Dan. Whatever their life together
was like, he'd always known that Vadim didn't quite
feed all hungers
not the one for good old fashioned
courting and romance.
you keep that up
"Dan's voice sounded as
if he had run a marathon, "you'll kill me."
Didn't want it any different. The slow build-up of pressure
and lust was cruel, but he had learned that quality
knocked out quantity a thousand times over.
time I checked, captives can't file complaints",
murmured Jean into Dan's ear, snaking his tongue into
it as he moved with a touch more force, which made him
groan and close his eyes. Damn. Keep it slow and steady,
or rush on. Fucked if he cared. But determined to make
the most of it. "What
kind of captor
would I be, huh?"
that." Breathed out, Dan shuddered at touch and
movement. Didn't know what he was saying, didn't matter
either. "I just can't believe you really ... are
doing this." Tipping his head back into his neck,
throat bared, lying against the couch, he lifted his
hips, as far as he could, attempting to get more friction.
He chuckled breathlessly, "but I guess you really
" he twisted his hips suddenly, sharply,
"coz I can feel my cock
" groaned, pushed
upwards once more, "right up your virginal arse."
shuddered hard, felt the motions, the strength in Dan's
body, and got an inkling of an idea what it might be
like if Dan was in control. "Yes, fuck, I am."
Didn't trust his voice, didn't trust his body, like
it was taken over by somebody else, something else.
Control became precarious at best, even though, damn,
he wanted it to last, to go slow. Pressed his cock against
Dan's straining body and dipped in for an open-mouthed,
hungry kiss. "And what a big fucking
eyes widened for a split second at the dirty talk, before
breaking into a grin that was swallowed by the kiss.
Passive, yet in control, heady concoction of conflicting
sensations. He broke the kiss, and murmured against
Jean's lips, "Big enough for that virgin arse of
gave a short laugh, shit, he loved talking like that
to Solange, loved how she squirmed when he made her
talk about how fucking good it was. Sometimes, he made
her call him 'daddy', or something like that. They had
a whole library of fantasies. "Yeah, just
about big enough, sir. Thank you, sir." Natural,
military talk, kind of, sir-ing Dan was alright, and
funny, but in a good way. "Give me more cock, sir."
half-closed, Dan raised one brow. Tied up, interesting.
Playful, different this time. Different to Vadim calling
him 'sir' in the very depths of a scene. With Vadim
nothing went ever less than down to the marrow of their
bones, and he'd be damned if he let the thoughts, worry
and fear, take over again. "Lift up, soldier."
Fuck, how right that felt, the Army was still in his
blood. "Lift up and take my cock deep. Slowly.
Don't you dare move too fast."
groaned, body tensed, his mind responding, body falling
in line, holy fuck, and he usually was in charge. Feeling
Dan's light, secure touch in this game was very different.
His own style was often humorous, dirty, but Dan's was
very interesting. "Like this, sir?" He moved
up, wanted to speed up, now, need growing.
almost closing again, Dan nodded, his voice barely more
than a murmur, "Fuck yourself on my cock, like
a good little soldier, and I'll reward you." Parting
his lips, tongue darting out for a brief moment.
felt himself getting close, holy fuck, from this game.
The burn, the fullness, Dan's sweat under his hands,
and the exact same thing he made Solange do, but now
with tables turned, with Dan, far more male than Solange
had ever possibly been. He rested his hands on Dan's
shoulders, legs working to do exactly that. Fucking
himself slowly, he clenched his ass as much as possible,
which fucking burnt again, but by now, that feeling
was just part of it. "Shit. I'm
getting there. Feels
weird, good weird. Make
me cum, sir."
too impatient, soldier." Hands bound, he should
feel helpless, but Dan felt nothing but steadily rising
lust. "Remember the first prerogative ..."
another twist of his hips, managing to change the angle
of penetration the moment Jean came back down on his
cock. Steeper, more intense, "you must fulfil your
duties. No questions asked. No pleading."
... pleading", echoed Jean, mind emptying. The
rogue soldier getting close to the point where he would
do anything, follow any order.
in a sharp breath between his teeth, Dan's head moved
forward, finding Jean's lips, and his tongue slid between
them and into the heat, eagerly greeted, sucked on.
Voice almost swallowed in the kiss, "I will blow
you, if you suck me dry with your arse."
sir." Tensing on that cock, fucking difficult,
and speeding up, almost punishing himself. The pain
was unimportant now, Jean's lean body tense and gleaming
with sweat. Thrusting down hard, groaning, loudly, louder
than Vadim would be, deep, sexy sounds that didn't care
if anybody listened.
" Dan broke the kiss, "like that."
Head moving again, tongue searching for lips, teeth,
taste. Wanting to swallow those sounds, those fucking
sounds of a man who didn't give a shit about anything,
who had never been forced to shut up and eat the silence,
who'd never been tortured, never been broken, never
been turned into a fucked-up mess that was so fucking
hard to live with at times, and it fucking hurt, and
With a sharp intake of breath, Dan shook his head, as
if getting rid of a bad dream. Then pushed, twisted,
moved in the confines of his bonds. Body gleaming with
sweat, closer. With every thrust getting closer. Deeper.
"Harder. Fuck yourself harder. You want to hurt,
soldier. Tell me you want to feel."
want to. Feel. You!" groaned Jean, moving more
fiercely now, tense, body feeling so much he was starting
to spin out of control. Pain sought now, challenge,
taken in, ripped apart and swallowed with abandon. "Make
voice suddenly snapped into something harder, "Do
it!" Breathless, but the order was unmistakable.
"Harder! Faster!" Hitting his head against
the sofa, lips parting, eyes closed, body strained and
stretched, slippery with sweat and need, and the friction
was getting too much. Dan came with a low growl and
throaty cry. "Fuck!" Shuddering and jerking
upwards, hips jutting with sharp stabs while he was
filling that untouched arse.
met those thrusts with all the fierceness that the pain
had stoked, giving no quarter, not to himself, not to
Dan. He felt Dan's cock pulse, what a weird feeling,
riding a man, feeling all that, but not able to follow
Dan there. Pain and wonder and a breathless need keeping
him tethered. Gasping, panting, he tried to move off,
but his legs felt weak, and he held onto Dan, wanting
to cum, too.
Dan gasped out. Head lifted. Two meanings, and his lips
parted, eyes half-glazed. "Your cock."
was a struggle to stand on the couch, dizzy as Jean
was, ass hurting, as he took Dan's head with both hands
and moved it forward onto his straining cock, body impossibly
let out a faint groan, pure hunger. Hands still bound,
he moved his head forward, straining, sucking the cock
deep down, opening his throat, ignoring the gagging
reflex. Come for me, he suddenly thought. Come for me.
held Dan's head, fingers digging into the mane of dark
and grey, not thrusting as much as being taken in. Pain
and need and closeness, and it was really only that
which brought him over the edge, losing himself. Fuck,
that became a habit with Dan.
pulled back, while Dan was still swallowing, intending
to take his time, licking-cleaning, lapping. Finally,
Jean stepped off the couch, legs weak, slightly shaky,
and wiped his face. Woah. Fucking woah. Shit.
you okay?" Jean grinned while Dan looked
up, head tilted, licking his lips. Jean felt it was
a little forced, maybe embarrassment, no idea, just
felt weird suddenly. "I'll have a quick shower,
then I sort us some food, how does that sound?"
Dan rattled lightly on the chain that held his wrists.
"You're not going to leave me like that, eh?"
Waiting for Jean to come closer, head tilting into the
back of his neck, he looked straight up. "The question
is, if you are OK, mate."
grinned and leaned over to unhook Dan, then opened the
handcuffs, and leaned down for a kiss. Strange feeling,
still, growing even stronger. "I'm fine. My ass
hurts, and I'd like to
ah, get clean. Fucking
weird feeling there."
his wrists, Dan kept his hands where they were. Good
kisses. He liked them, a goddamned lot. "Sure."
Nodding when Jean broke the kiss. "I understand.
Know what that feels like."
licked his lips and stepped back. "Be back later."
With that, he left the living room, feeling every step,
still the burn, he really needed to check whether he
had injured himself, fuck, now, that would be just too
amusing. Tapping into a masochistic side he hadn't thought
had a shower, leaning against the tiles, letting hot
water run over his neck and back, checking his body,
and washing out what he could reach. Didn't seem to
be injured. Still, something about it made him shudder.
Something about Dan. Something cut deep to the bone,
in a good and bad way, something that had never happened
before. Maybe because of the ass fucking. Shit. It all
circled around Dan. How Dan laughed, and mocked, and
are you doing?" he muttered, stepped out and towelled
himself down. Checked on himself in the mirror. Reddened,
stretched, but nothing else. Should be alright in a
bit. He wrapped himself into a robe and returned.
had left the couch in the meantime, standing in front
of the panorama window, smoking. Naked, presenting his
back to the room. Dark skin glowing in the milky sunlight
that streamed into the room, he was looking at the garden,
still barren in early spring. He didn't seem to have
heard Jean, just standing and staring.
was about to say something as he entered, but his voice
faltered. Shit. He stepped closer, feeling oddly conscious
as he placed his hands on Dan's shoulders and kissed
his neck, enjoying the broad back, the smell of his
skin. Don't think, just take as much as you can have,
and give as much as you can, because it would be over
when Solange returned.
rolled his head before dropping it for a moment, allowing
better access to his neck.
news, I don't think I'll get pregnant." Jean murmured.
laughed quietly, under his breath. "Good to know.
One daughter is enough. Couldn't do with another one."
Craning his head back to catch a glimpse. "Besides,
I'm getting old."
getting shit, Dan. Bullshit." Jean shook his head,
hands moved to Dan's arms, stayed there, lips against
the taut skin under Dan's left ear.
bastard." Dan chuckled, leaning against Jean.
you ever think about kids? I mean, actually raise them?
We're sending some money to some place in Sierra Leone
" where Jean had worked and made contact
with the natives, appalled at the cruelty and need,
"but that's it."
Jean's lips move against his skin, Dan relished the
sensation. "No. Never. As the bitch said so eloquently,
my life was one of destruction, not creation."
One shouldered shrug, eyes fixed on the garden outside.
"I was a tool all my life, and I couldn't have
carried a foetus in my ammo pouch."
smirked, breathing laughter against Dan's skin.
you? Do you regret it?"
I do. Yeah. The only way for us to have kids is grab
a handful, kidnap them and keep them hidden for the
rest of our lives." Jean laughed. "Can't even
mention it when she's around. She'd take it personal,
you know?" Precious Solange, she'd suffer for that,
and that was something Jean just couldn't watch. "So
I pretend I don't. Easier. Ah, shit. I guess I ruined
our romantic mood. Don't mind me. Fucking Russian blood,
wants to go all death and gloom if I don't pull together."
thought you were French by blood, of a different type."
Dan smiled, turning in Jean's arms until they stood
face to face. "Not much that can ruin my mood.
I'm the hardy peasant."
laughed again. "Aye."
Dan raised his brows, "that's my line. I'm Scottish,
have you already forgotten?" He winked, his smile
widening. "There simply are some things that we
can't have. But is adoption really out with your lifestyle?"
sure. I was wondering, you know. But that would mean
officials looking too closely at us. Bad karma."
shrugged, leant closer, "We just have to get on
with life, eh?" No matter how much it cost.
nothing eloping together could solve. You're getting
too old to have my babies." Jean slapped Dan's
ass and laughed.
ago you claimed I was getting shit." Dan's brows
danced up and down his forehead. "Not sure where
your thoughts have buggered off to, but hell, Jean,
you're damn strange today."
thought Jean and gave an innocent grin, as if he had
no idea in hell what Dan was talking about. His normal
light heartedness felt like an act now. Which was weird,
because it wasn't.
his head, Dan half-smiled. "Eloping's right out,
but not because of the babies. There's that little matter
of our partners, hm?"
that wouldn't be a good idea. Vadim's a good
tracker, and Solange has the legal power to shut down
my bank accounts." Jean smirked. "Seems we're
the tragic love story that can never happen, huh?"
we?" Dan's smile was still in place. "Are
paused, felt his heart race all of a sudden. What the
fuck are you doing? Found no clever comment that quickly,
not quick enough by far. "Comrades", he said,
first thing that came to his blank mind. Good start.
"Right? We'll always be that."
nodded, with that same smile. "Aye, comrades. Friends.
We'll always be friends." Gesturing with his chin
over to the couch. "And you'd be an even better
friend and comrade for sitting down there and talking
for, say, five minutes."
glanced at the couch, ran a hand through his hair, still
damp, then walked over and sat down. Okay. He'd feel
his ass for a while longer. He idly capped the lube
again and put it away, where he usually kept it. To
give his hands something to do.
flopped himself down on the wine-stained leather couch
beside Jean. "Right, then." The fingers of
his left rested lightly on Jean's robe-clad shoulders.
"Spill the beans. What's up, Frenchie?" Tilting
his head until it lay on the top of the couch's back.
"Was the fucking a big mistake? Gone all weird
in your head? It did that to me, you know. Ages ago."
in what way?" Jean shook his head.
"I can't make anything out of it. It's just
He raised his shoulders. "Hell, I
rubbed his nose with the heel of his hand. "You
and Solange alright?" Echoing Jean's earlier question.
I'm just taking her for granted. She sometimes says
I do, but that's when she's
feeling down. She
has times like that, we call that her PMS." He
gave a small laugh. Ups and downs. Who didn't have them?
"You get used to somebody after that time. You're
kind of holiday, I guess. Something she
isn't. I'm faithful, that's weird, too, nothing I really,
I do mean it. When I kiss you."
you do mean it." Dan nodded, "I do, too."
He smiled, poking a finger into Jean's solar plexus,
right above where the bathrobe opened. "Are you
going to tell me now that you've fallen in love with
me? However stupid that may sound." He grinned,
taking the piss.
grinned sharply. "Yes, it sounds stupid. So I won't
say it. I'll keep it to myself. The whole opera about
how much I fucking wanted you, and that I
Jean paused, struggling. "Yeah, shit, I
guess I love you - so what? Won't change a thing, and
it shouldn't really, we're both adults, we have
people around, and commitments. Just
take that feeling and, I don't know, 'cherish' sounds
like from a bad song. You're a guy, and I still love
you when you're here. I never did that with another
guy, and Solange never really was male, so
I just love being around you, touching you and
making you smile. I feel like a complete pussy for that,
weird, that I can do all that with a girl, but I feel
strange when I do it with you, but it feels good."
The breathed out syllable was all that Dan brought out.
Gone the bravado, the jokes and piss-taking. Gone, too,
his belief he'd known what Jean was going to say. Wrong.
No, not wrong, just nowhere near the level of truth.
swallowed. "Yeah, 'oh'. It's alright. It really
good I said it, I guess."
swallowed, hand moved off Jean's shoulder to rub once,
twice over his face before he cleared his throat, looking
back up. "Fact is, I sometimes wish Vadim was you.
Just sometimes, you know?" He shouldn't be saying
that, should have never even felt it, but sometimes,
like now, with Vadim far away and all that pain and
fear and loneliness, with nowhere and nothing to soothe
the worry, it was just there. That feeling. "The
lightness between us. There's no pain. The way you kiss
and touch and all that, but then
his head, smiling.
then I'm not him." Jean gave a grin and reached
out to raise Dan's chin, moving close as if for a kiss.
"That's alright. Maybe some weird part of me is
jealous. Does that make sense?"
Makes sense." Dan felt strange for a moment, the
tender gesture. The way Jean treated him, different
to any man he'd ever been with. There was a gentleness
about him that had always somehow resonated with him.
"A request, perhaps?"
that that 'talking' is done and over with, and since
I obviously can't get it up again that quickly, any
chance for a kiss and touch fest? You mentioned a hot
tub and some food. You know I do extremely depraved
things for - and to - a piece of baklava."
grinned. "Grapes and cheese and more wine? Sounds
like a start?" He ran fingers along Dan's jaw line,
tracing the bone underneath. "Just head downstairs.
I'll bring the food and wine."
got up while Jean headed into the kitchen, to fetch
the prepared food from the fridge, baguette mainly for
cleaning up the taste between the cheese and wine, glasses,
a couple bottles.
any baklava after all?" Dan called, "or any
on." Jean gave a laugh. "I have to hide that
stuff. Solange gets really upset if she finds sugar
or chocolate in the house."
was making his way with the help of his cane down the
stairs. Stairs would always be a bit of a bastard. The
hot tub sat at one end of the sauna, swimming pool,
steam room ensemble that took up the old building's
cellar. Everything was pristine, neatly tiled, decorated
with potted plants and indirect light filtered in from
was looking for the switch to turn it on, when Jean
there, near the steps." Jean came with the platter,
food precariously piled up, wine bottles under his arm,
wine glasses dangling from his fingers. Carefully setting
everything down, he'd broken glasses here before, and
cleaning that up ruined the mood.
I see." Spotting the control panel, Dan set the
whirl tub into motion, satisfied at the bubbles. "Does
she ever eat anything?" Dan glanced at Jean who
was arranging the food and drink. "Other than a
piece of celery, that is. Would drive me mental if I
had to watch what I eat."
laughed. "Her main counts as my side salad. She
knows the calorie content of just about everything.
But we work out together. Of course, different sets
of weights, but she is a mean runner."
flashed a grin and looked around, wondering how the
hell to best get into the tub. Their own had a special
set of steps built in, to make it easier for him to
looked at Dan's knee, then the tub. "Ah. Want my
shoulder? Carrying you in might be a bit ... embarrassing,
cheeky bastard, I don't need anyone to carry me, I could
carry you, if the knee didn't play up." Mock-punching
Jean, "but a shoulder's appreciated."
doubt." Jean opened the robe and shed it, then
moved close to Dan, offering his shoulder, sliding an
arm around his waist.
Dan needed was that bit of support for balance. Once
in the water, he sunk under for a while, before coming
back up, grinning and shaking his hair, water flying
settled near the wine, pouring it lazily while Dan fooled
around. Feeling the bite of the hot water. Still strange,
but alright. What made him think more was the angle
of pain in that. Was it that different from Solange
raking his back with fingernails?
Jean, I expect you to make good your Frenchman's reputation
and feed me with good wine, food, and an afternoon of
l'amour, l'amour, l'amour."
laughed and offered a glass, and a kiss right after
that. "Baklava and Italian biscotti. Should serve
a dessert wine rather than this stuff, but I like this
glass, kiss, and most of all a mouthful of wine, Dan
settled back, comfortable and weightless in the water.
He'd learned to love water almost as much as Vadim did.
It took the strain off his knees, kept his body in shape
and allowed him to expend his energy as he used to do
pushed the plate closer to Dan, then selected a couple
grapes, teased Dan's lips with the smooth, chilled skin
of the fruit, and pushed them in, gingerly, opening
his own lips as he did, eyes gleaming.
closing around the grape, Dan bit down on it, tangy
juice running down his throat and his chin, before sucking
the fruit in fully. "Good start. I can feel the
savoir vivre." He grinned.
gave a laugh. "Let's see if we can hold that level."
He discarded the thoughts what it all meant and caused
and did, just taking what he knew was true. That he
enjoyed immensely being with Dan, love or comradeship,
no matter, Solange thought it had some 'father &
son' vibes, or definitely something like family, which
was a strange thought, but touched the core of it. He
felt at ease and comfortable with this man. Whatever
they did was alright.
that was kissing, and feeding each other, holding and
touching and more kissing, stroking, touch and feeling
because they could have it, and forget time and everything
outside the Jacuzzi for a long while.
stayed until the late afternoon, then got out and dressed,
and into the village to the local bar. Wine and freshly
baked bread with garlic, rosemary and produce from the
surrounding countryside. Dan was laughing with the locals,
Jean was playing pétanque with the older men,
while Dan watched, until he gave it a go.
with wine and food, strawberry quiche and a helping
of several cups of coffee, good company, and most of
all the comfortable ease of being around Jean, they
were finally making their way back up to the house,
when it was after eleven. Walking this time, too much
wine for both. Talking on the way, smiling. Another
day was drawing to an end; another time with Jean. It
had kept him from thinking and had filled the loneliness.
was light when they arrived, and Solange opened the
door when Jean rang. She smiled and hugged, and Jean
kissed her, with the same tenderness and seriousness
that he always kissed with.
you have a good day?" asked Jean between kisses,
while Dan stood, leaning against the wall of the house,
yes." She laughed, trying to push Jean back, but
he unbalanced her, and she clung to him, laughing. "Manners,
mon cherie, manners."
shook his head, "It's alright, Solange, I have
a funny feeling your husband has missed you."
guess so, but he shouldn't be so rude
She tried in vain to free herself from Jean's arms,
then resigned to the fact. "You're terrible, Jean."
else is new?" asked Jean, and carried her off.
was smiling as he watched them leave. He stayed in the
kitchen for another hour, raiding the fridge and making
himself a coffee or two, while smoking, deep in thoughts.