1991, The Persian Gulf
heat outside was nothing compared to the hell inside
the armoured vehicle. Dan was drenched in sweat, his
body armour soaked and the shirt underneath dark with
dampness. He could feel sweat run in rivulets beneath
the helmet and his hands kept slipping off the rifle.
Ironic that he should look forward to stepping into
the blinding light of stifling heat under the merciless
sun of Iraq's desert. Anything was better than the inside
of a moving tin can.
got himself out of the vehicle, head down, rifle in
his right, the left fiddling with the helmet strap.
The relief of taking it off was unlike anything, except
for the joy, perhaps, of getting sweaty feet out of
heavy boots. He lifted his head, slicked the sweat drenched
hair out of his face, and looked around the open space
in front of the huts. One of which had become his 'home'.
his eyes against the sun, he tried to make out a figure
that seemed unfamiliar in these surroundings. Knowing
all the regular guys by now, this could be a new addition.
Whatever. He'd find out soon enough if the new guy was
good for a fight - or a fuck. It was far more important
to get the armour unbuckled. He'd probably lost a pound
or two underneath from sweating like a pig.
vehicle was moving off, creating a cloud of dust that
seemed to swallow Dan whole for a moment, but he was
too used to this yellow-red shit to bother. It only
pissed him off when he had to pick the sand out of his
jap's eye. He had finally opened the straps and groaned
in something akin to ecstasy when the plates fell open
across his chest.
the silhouette of the man out of his eye again, he wondered.
The guy was still standing just like before, hadn't
moved. Was staring right across the open space. Watching,
it seemed, Dan could feel the gaze in his guts and between
his eyes. He sighed. Alright, alpha male games? He could
play them blindfolded and he'd never lost the game.
Not here, not in this camp of soldiers and insane fuckers
- formerly authorized killers who couldn't fit into
society anymore. Close security, what fun. Better than
sectioning the no-longer sanctioned ones. Dan lifted
one hand to shield his eyes, using the helmet for shadow
Broad. Short-shaved blond. Arms crossed on a massive
chest. Legs apart.
knew how pale the eyes were; remembered the taste of
skin and flesh, had touched every single inch of that
body. Knew pain and fear, hurt and tears; remembered
utter desolation, a feeling so empty and lost, he needed
danger, pub fights, deadly battle and bloodied fists
to anaesthetise the agony.
dropped his hands, rifle in one, helmet in another,
and body armour gaping open. Began to walk, a straight
line towards the man who stood like a stature. Dan's
dusty boots disturbed red clouds with every step, until
he stopped in front of the man he had not seen for months.
Nearly half a year. Not believed to ever encounter again.
Who had vanished without a word and elusive to be traced.
stood, one step apart.
men, same height.
voice cut through the entire camp, carrying danger.
was too surprised even to recoil. They had told him
McFadyen's patrol was due any minute, and he'd get picked
up by his team leader, who would just about return at
the same time. He had passed the time watching the comings
and goings, working in his mind on what he wanted to
say, while adjusting to the blistering heat as much
as he could, drinking two bottles of water while waiting.
He'd wanted to offer friendship, ask for forgiveness,
explain himself. It was not much different than meeting
up after months in Afghanistan. There was enough understanding,
enough knowledge, enough
closeness, to bridge
the time. They had done that so often, for so long.
then was that thing Dan called him now a punch to the
guts? He'd expected anger, had expected to see Dan,
but hadn't expected that word. What it was meant to
mean, and what it hadn't, when they had been close.
Closer than this. Vadim's shoulders tensed, lips grew
hard, jaw tightened, and fists formed. He locked his
body in place to not give a quarter.
covered in red dust, bristling with anger. It was really
him. Surprise, and a familiarity, a feeling of recognizing,
of knowing this man, and now not knowing him at all.
Like he'd misread him all the time, like this man had
changed so much that there was no knowing left, no memories,
only the bad stuff, the stuff when they had been enemies.
And that was something he hadn't been prepared for,
didn't know how to take it, default response was a show
of fighting spirit, like he had always defaulted to
that when challenged. He had to stand his ground or
everybody would walk all over him. No man could take
that word without being laughed at, no way he could
accept that. Couldn't. He met Dan's eyes, could feel
the other's breath on his face, facing off a tiger.
Knew he had lost all momentum, couldn't build it up
now for a counter attack, and thought what attack? This
soldiers drew close, drawn like flies to sweat, and
Vadim did what he could: stare right into those dark
eyes, encrusted with dirt, and refuse to budge. Refused
to move a single muscle, in anger, or in defeat. I can't
answer that question. I can't move. I can't speak.
lips bared his teeth in a snarl. Outraged, out of his
mind with fury, all senses set on one goal only: kill.
dare you." Dan's arm raised by instinct. Rifle
moving, shifting, lifting, aiming without bothering
just stared at the rifle, could almost feel the butt
impact, or, irony of ironies, could see himself stare
down a darkness that not even the Lubyanka had been
able to emulate. Shot down like a dog. Could do nothing
but face it, hadn't been issued his weapons yet.
safety was still off and Dan's hand re-gripped the weapon.
Some of the guys who were starting to gather round Mad
Dog and that weird looking newcomer, belonged to Dan's
team. One of them dared to walk up to him, uttering
a few quiet words and not only taking Dan's helmet but
prying the rifle out of his hand.
let go. Too intent on the fucking bastard and the blinding
wave of memory, hurt and pain that crashed upon him.
It all came back, within one second.
fucking dare you!" Dan snarled, empty hands in
snarled right back. "What? This your private property?
You fucking walked into my war, now I fucking walk into
bastard. It's our war. Yours. Mine. It has never ended,
just that you walked out of it without a word, to leave
me to rot, you fucking piece of Russian shit."
Dan spit out the next words, "you fucking cowardly
was losing it, he'd never felt so much rage, not even
in the aftermath of the rape. A lifetime ago. The agony
had been less, then. Less shattered, less broken. He
had survived more intact than now.
the man. Not the man he'd held. Vadim was stunned underneath
the anger, found it near impossible to keep that stoic
façade together, and he moved forward, to go
chest to chest. Maybe invite those punches, allow Dan
to vent that anger, have a fight, and maybe talk later?
When Dan was too tired to be this angry? When he was
more rational? He felt a movement behind him and strong
hands grabbing his arms, and a voice. "Don't. He's
not worth it. Don't want to spend your first days here
in the brig, do you?"
fucking worth it?" The roar that broke out of Dan's
chest was enough to get a couple of his team mates alerted
to drop the suspense of a proper fist fight, and to
rush forward, one on each of his side. "Eleven
fucking years not fucking worth it? I'm going to fucking
kill you, Legionnaire, when I'm done with that Russian
cunt!" Dan was about to throw himself against Vadim,
this time no holds barred and death and destruction
blazing from his eyes, when the two guys grabbed each
one arm. They had to struggle to hold him back.
Mad Dog out of the fucking way. Guy needs a shower.
was pulled back, almost physically lifted, when he looked
over his shoulder. Caught a glimpse of blue eyes like
water, too stunned to do much, saw the guy wore camo,
and felt him release his arms. "You stay. Put."
your back, Vadim, I'll cut your chest open, dig your
heart out and let it dry in the fucking desert!"
Dan was being dragged away, all but fighting the guys
who were restraining him. "Keeps you from breaking
anymore promises, won't it, cunt?"
stranger stepped between Mad Dog and Vadim, left hand
against Vadim's chest. Vadim stared at Dan, felt a shudder
rise in his body, knew Dan meant it, meant every word,
and found himself lacking the strength to resist. He
couldn't win this fight, as much as he could fend off
lightning. Promises. His honour, shit, yeah, what did
his word mean anyway? Had prided himself once on things
like that, but truth was, that had been one of his many
delusions. "Okay, fucking do it. Let's be done
get my chance, bastard. And when I do, you wish you'd
never set foot into a fucked-up place in Kabul, eleven
years ago." Too many people around, but he'd do
it, meant it, couldn't wait to smell the Russkie's blood
on his hands. Payment for pain that was drowning him
right now, hurt that had never left. Desolation, and
nothing left. Pain that welled up from the depths he
had shoved it down into. Two years. Then six fucking
months ago, on New Year's Eve.
chance", said the guy between them, dark blond,
eyes as clear as water, tall, broad, Slavic features,
a broad, open face. "Trust me, the brig is even
hotter than accommodations."
out of this shit, legionnaire." Dan growled, but
the worst spike of hatred was off, now it was just the
fucking pain and memories. "Besides, your new friend
hates heat. You should know that." Dan pointed
at Vadim, "he's one of your countrymen. The worst
kind. The kind that does not keep promises and does
legionnaire huffed. "Mad Dog's finished biting,
huh? That all?" Tone light, but the man was ready
to fight, much more ready than Vadim was. "Grab
some chow, you're not getting paid for this shit."
team mates were still standing beside Dan, but wary
of touching. "Be careful, Legionnaire, the bastard
can't be trusted." Dan forced himself to turn,
ignoring anyone who stepped out of his way quickly enough,
ready to punch those who weren't fast enough to jump.
Storming towards the accommodation block and the gym.
legionnaire looked at Dan's mates, refrained from commenting,
visibly, then looked at Vadim. "It's no use fighting
him. Took on a bunch of jarheads a couple weeks ago.
You know. Jarheads. US Marines."
blinked, then met the blue eyes. Odd. Something odd
about the language
? It was Russian. Felt like
the bitch who had changed hands, that's what it had
to look like for everybody. He had taken it lying down,
the insults, and then had to be protected by another
man. Shit. And Dan. Be careful Legionnaire. Like
... handing him over. Impossible. Just impossible.
Countryman. He moved away a few steps, was glad when
he broke the touch, didn't want to be touched, only
felt guilty and pained, somehow, strength sapped. All
the strength they had been building up in him. The hard-won
pride. Why again had he bothered? All this, only to
be nearly shot down for his troubles?
to the Gulf, anyway." The legionnaire began to
walk towards one of the bigger tents. Vadim hoped it
held the kitchen, mess hall, whatever, and followed,
glad the other gave him time to stomach the punch. "You
must be Vadim. They told me you'd arrive today. I'm
your team leader. Jean-Pierre, but people call me Jean."
can show you my papers. It's all official. I'm Belgian
by birth, French by service."
say, central Moscow. You sound like you lived two streets
down from where I lived."
Hobby linguist." Jean grinned. "But at least
you speak a civilised language. It's been ages since
I heard Russian."
He'd responded in Russian without even thinking about
it. Too familiar, he just switched back into his language,
found it less awkward, and felt stupid and weak because
of it, and didn't want this 'Jean' to have that effect
on him. He didn't want to be reminded. He didn't want
to be Russian, look Russian, sound Russian. He wanted
nothing to do with Russians.
led him to the mess tent, just in time to grab chow.
Not much different from Britain, same kind of food,
same kind of company, only more ragtag, more adventurous.
Jean gave him the quick story, as if trying to build
rapport, as if Vadim would have asked him anything about
his past. Jean had joined the French Foreign Legion
and, after his service, had a nationality, skills and
commanded an excellent price on the market. Too young
to retire just yet, had moved on, spent some time in
various places in Africa, then had been hired as a security
contractor. And he used Afganets lingo, the occasional
twist of sentence, the occasional expression. Telling
him without telling him, that he'd been in that hellhole.
Brotherhood of Afghanistan.
studied him, wondering about his motive. This man might
actually be a deserter. Just didn't look like a career
soldier, even if he was now, well, a merc, really. This
guy gave off the vibes of a conscript who'd been pulled
deeper into the war than he could have wanted.
showed up again after Vadim had set up his kit and his
bunk in one of the tin huts. At least he didn't have
to share. He could have all the nightmares in the world
and nobody would notice. Jean brought a 'welcome gift',
a bottle of vodka that wasn't nearly cold enough, but
the taste was clean and crisp. Maybe one Russian thing
that Vadim welcomed. According to Jean, there was absolutely
no alcohol while on duty, but Jean had a day off, and
would spend that to show him the ropes in camp. Allow
him to settle in smoothly, and for today and tonight,
Vadim could relax.
felt relaxed, dug his heels into the ground, and tilted
his head back, taking the last swallow from the bottle,
felt it burn and calm and warm him. Fuck Dan. Or 'Mad
Dog'. Mad Dog alright. Unless Dan came to his senses,
unless this huge mess sorted itself some way, he would
stand and fight. Next time Dan shouted at him or moved
to attack him. It didn't matter whether he was right
or wrong. He couldn't allow anyone to walk over him
like that. Last bastards who'd done that had been KGB.
Maybe he could punch some sense into the man.
Vadya, I shouldn't be saying this."
blinked at the affectionate name. "Then don't."
Despite Jean speaking Russian, he kept to English, pointedly.
legionnaire grinned and obliged him, also speaking English.
"First: get that Soviet shit out your head. Second:
keep the knife where it belongs. You'll be in trouble
here in camp. And I'll tell you why. Mad Dog started
that fight with the 'Amerikanskies' when he told everybody
he prefers cock and ass. And after the stunt he just
pulled in front of everybody? That would be your ass."
shuddered. Cocksucker. Faggot. He couldn't even say
it had been Dan who'd been the bitch. Not with those
scars on his back. Not the way he had failed to stand
his ground alone. Jean, or whatever his name was, had
come to the rescue. And Jean took him under the wing,
showing him the ropes, tomorrow, for everybody to see.
Fantastic. Just brilliant.
I can't say I like the fucker. I don't actually care.
But I sure as hell wouldn't want to be his ex-bitch
in a camp full of people that either like the size of
that bastard's balls or hate his guts. Got me? Be careful."
was special forces." It just slipped out. Vadim
camp's full of special forces." Jean paused, as
if expecting protest, then nodded again. "Just
make sure you control that knife."
stared at the empty bottle, could feel the vodka already,
which was disgraceful. Half a bottle and it already
made him talk. And think, and that was worse. Dan had
provided all the information that the other mercs could
put two and two together and end up with a twisted version
of the truth. Bitch. Suka. Cocksucker. Liked to have
a cock up his ass. He remembered having liked it, had
loved it, had offered, asked, and begged for it. His
body coiled and rolled, didn't even want touch now.
Smelling Dan's breath had been almost too much. Seeing
him, even in that state. Dan. He just didn't know what
to feel. He would have to watch his back very, very
carefully. "Shit. Spetsnaz."
fuck-all." The legionnaire smirked. "You could
be fucking Vympel, those peasants couldn't tell the
difference. Lots of those have spent their lives hating
the Soviets. We're not the good guys and it gets even
worse when we do shit with the Americans. They'd love
a cocksucking commie, ex or not."
groaned and leaned his head against the sheet of metal
doubling as their cover and couch. "Aye. What's
the worst I can expect?"
a bright spark, I can tell." The legionnaire laughed.
"Well, fists. Lots of those. Ever been in prison?"
swallowed and made a dismissive gesture. "Cut to
that you don't go to your knees. Big guy like you should
be able to give them a run for their money. But knives
is one step too far. It will be nasty, but it's not
about killing. You got that?"
just wasn't used to that anymore. It felt like fucking
drilling again, only without the benefit of a rank,
and nobody knowing that he liked getting fucked. Had
liked. He wasn't sure. Been long and even thinking about
it brought an acidic taste of shame with it. "Aye."
yes, you walked into his war for real." The legionnaire
half-turned. "I can't promise anything."
not your job."
it. Wouldn't help you, anyway."
then I'd be your bitch."
legionnaire eyed him. "I like tits. Truly. Deeply."
stood. It was late, his body was still aching from the
final tests and from lack of sleep. Hadn't quite recovered,
he really wasn't thirty anymore, and the conversation
went into a territory that was completely unknown and
uncharted, and he wouldn't make a single step without
some serious recce. It was about comradeship for this
man, very likely, about Russianness and about being
Afghantsy. Fabled brotherhood of a sold-out, betrayed
and fucked-up generation. In a camp full of enemies,
and Dan, he could use a 'friend', if he could get across
that he didn't want to speak Russian and wouldn't mention
his past. "You play chess?"
legionnaire grinned. "You any good?"
get by." Vadim rubbed his face and scalp. "I
need to crash."
walk you to the door."
Vadim didn't really feel that smile. Couldn't read this
Jean, but the man was not a threat. Unlike everybody
else, thanks to Dan's scene. Just great. Mad Dog's bitch.
Dog. Bitch. It wasn't funny. But he needed control to
not make this slaughter. That was the hard part, the
whole warning. Murder was murder, provocation or not.
He was not a loose gun. He was not a psycho. He had
nerves, he knew that, it took a lot to make him flip,
he was not a raving lunatic. He had passed all the tests.
Then why the fuck did he feel so brittle? He'd fought
unjust wars, done nasty shit in his life, then why did
this fluster him? It shouldn't touch him.
the KGB had cracked him open and peeled him alive. Professional
torture. Screaming in the night? Waking shit-scared,
sobbing into the fucking pillow? Sex drive next to nil?
Only feeling he'd left was a little pride and that whole,
big, heavy nothing in his mind that made way only too
willingly to fear. There had been stirrings of something
else. Some feelings, but it was like those didn't matter
anymore, like he was sliding back into the darkness
with nothing to hold him but sheer willpower. He should
have stayed away. Or asked to be sent somewhere else.
How fucking naïve to believe Dan would listen.
had wanted to tell him goodbye, let him go, maybe try
and make him understand that he had been fucked up,
that he was a different man now. Then, he had dared
to hope, hoped at least for friendship, no, fuck that,
had hoped to return to what they'd shared once. Love.
The willingness to die for each other. Despite the Baroness'
warnings, nothing had prepared him for Dan's rage. He
did deserve it. He shouldn't have come. He couldn't
sort this one out. Dan had meant it, the bit about cutting
his heart out. That was not a metaphor. Dan didn't even
know what metaphors were.
so fucked", he murmured. He was tired, above all
things. He'd be ready for the attack, hoped the adrenaline
would carry him through. He'd fight it, the bitch thing,
whatever they said, whatever they did, however many
were going for him to give him a beating just because
he'd fucked with Mad Dog, and that made him less of
headed to his bunk, found it hard to sleep.
screaming. No surprise there.
the encounter, Dan had gone straight to the gym, only
bothering to take the plate armoured vest off, before
lifting more weights than he'd ever done before. Torturing
his body into utmost exhaustion, until his knees nearly
made him scream and every bone in his body, every muscle,
protested in pain. At least the physical pain numbed
the agony he was in. Hadn't expected this. This man.
This shock. This pain. The onslaught of everything he
thought he'd buried deep down. The suicidal emptiness,
the bottomless grief, and the sheer unimaginable terror
of having lost all he'd fought for, hoped for, loved
and lived for.
alternative to numbing himself with exhaustion would
have been murder.
took a long, hot shower, closing his eyes under the
spray. Wished he had peace of mind. Fat fucking chance
with that fuckwit close by.
only he didn't hurt like a torn-open bled-dry motherfucker.
had a phone call to make, and he had to do it now, before
he might commit a crime that would end his own life
as well. Once he was washed up and dressed, wearing
the shades as always, he marched into HQ, demanding
an urgent phone line to Britain. Dialling the Baroness,
Dan waited impatiently to be put through to the Margaret
de Vilde herself. He didn't bother with introductions,
not this time. She'd know he was on the line, her aide
would have told her.
Straight to the bone. "There is no way I will work
with him. With Vadim Krasnorada." Dan was gripping
the phone so tightly, the scars on his left hand were
stretched taut. "No way, Ma'm, absolutely no way!"
I thought you were a professional." Her voice sounded
impeccable and stern, despite the crackling line.
I could say the same for you, or should I ask why you
sent Krasnorada here? Into this camp? Where I am?"
Dan was bristling. "I asked you, before you sent
me here, not to look for him. I thought I'd explained!"
you saying you question my professionalism and are you
suggesting that there is an ulterior motif to my decision?"
There was a pause in the line.
Ma'm." Dan kept to his guns, "why here, why
he, and why with me. I don't get it. With all due respect,
Ma'm, but to me that feels like interfering, especially
since I asked you not to." He didn't hear anything
for a while until her voice came back, as level as ever.
and foremost, Vadim Krasnorada came to me, I did not
seek out his whereabouts. Secondly, he has proven during
Marine Commando training and SAS Selection that he is
still in perfect shape. He is simply the best for the
job, a job like yours. This is why I have sent him to
the Gulf." She paused, "is this your last
word? You will not work with Mr Krasnorada?"
could not make out what she was thinking, her voice
had kept its usual crystal clear perfection. If she
felt anything at all, it was lost in the precise vowels
Ma'm. I wouldn't want a knife to slip on a mission,
nor a bullet to stray." Dan knew exactly what he'd
just implied, wasn't willing to take it back. Fire behind
the lines, a knife meant for an enemy, ending in the
body of a different kind. He couldn't guarantee the
bastard's safety. Not now. Not when he wanted to rip
the fucking Russian apart, as much as he had been torn
to shreds, six months ago, and had never been mended
back together. His rage was deep-seated, an all-consuming,
blind hatred where there had been nothing but love before.
understand." She conceded, "I will inform
the Officer in charge of the situation. You will not
work in a team with Vadim Krasnorada, but right now
we need his expertise in the Gulf and I am not willing
to send him somewhere else."
frowned, but he knew her too well. There was no way
he could sway her decision, not yet anyway. "Thank
you, Ma'm." Curtly, Dan put the receiver down without
further acknowledgment, staring at the phone for a while.
He didn't know what to think. Had she done this on purpose?
There was no other explanation and for one moment he
fucking hated her as well for what she had done.
to see if the Yank kid was off duty some time soon.
Nothing but a fresh-faced jarhead to ease the tension.
in the embassy Baroness Margaret de Vilde was putting
the phone down and sighed. Her hand resting on the receiver,
she murmured to herself, "I am sorry, my friend."
Shut the fuck up!" Someone was banging against
Vadim's door. "Some of us need to grab some sleep."
lay awake, shuddering, could scoop the sweat in handfuls
from his chest. No idea what it had been, but his heart
tried to jump through his throat. "Fuck you!"
he shouted towards the door. Remembered what the doc
had said. In times of stress. Emotional stress. Seeing
Dan obviously counted.
fuck me", he groaned, listened to his voice in
the tiny place that was his quarters, field bed, a couple
boxes, that was pretty much it. His body that decided
to freak on him. Wiped the sweat off his chest with
the blanket and stared into the darkness. Checked the
time. Two. Three more hours before he would wake up
again, unless the exhaustion claimed him and he'd wake
from the commotion the others caused. Stared into the
darkness, forcing himself to count his breaths, twenty
at a time, then started again until he finally fell
awoke from the others moving, chatter outside. Got his
kit and headed for the showers, paused. Folded the towel
around the soap, improvised weapons were best, slings
were one of the things he could work with, even though
he preferred the garrotte for speed and elegance. Or
any other cable. Fighting in the shower. Now, that would
indeed be a throwback. But whatever happened, he'd never
been fucked in any shower, and he was pretty confident
he would keep it that way.
could see the glances, none of them friendly. The chatter
turned hostile, no specific words, just a general sneer
that was in the air, grins that seemed inappropriate.
Too many eyes on him.
stepped under the spray, the guys left and right changed
positions, moved one shower further away, there was
plenty of space this early in the morning. Vadim kept
his face a studied mask, knew he was being checked,
assessed, knew they read the scars. Hoped they didn't
know what they meant. No side of his body that didn't
tell a story. The burn mark right under his throat.
The knife cuts on his back. His neatly kept, nearly
hairless body, shaved neck, short hair. The old tattoo
on his arm.
ran a soapy hand once over his scalp, getting soap into
his eyes just wouldn't do. Stance broad, balanced, as
secure in his footing as the Hindu Kush, he was fully
there and aware, and he could just feel how they were
thinking about ways to take him on.
washed himself with all the calm of a man who had nowhere
to run. Conscious of the wall in his back, even if that
wall was not very solid. He weighed a few snide comments,
but didn't want to be the one who started it. Not that
he would be able to find anybody who'd defend him if
an officer caught wind of it.
stopped the water, shook his head and moved to the side
to have a quick towel-down.
that shit on your back?" London, Cockney-tinged.
Squaddie. Ex. Oh, the sheer bravado of it.
dried his hands, didn't want to slip, measured the man.
Could feel others draw closer. He would have to get
out of here without running away too obviously. Fighting
retreat, SAS tactics.
me, Russkie?" Bastard was already wearing sports
kit, danced a little around like he was a boxer. He
probably was. That meant a good punch, but an open face.
No gloves to hide behind. And they usually didn't expect
to be kneed in the balls. "What's that shit on
your back." Grinning and leering. Oh, my hero.
One of the lads.
can see that, dickhead." The Cockney stepped closer,
grinning at him, hands at his chest, half closed. Maybe
fancied himself to be a martial artist as well. "Princess
like you getting that shit."
should make you think", said Vadim and remained
standing. More people drew closer. Six, seven. That
shave would be close, if he started the fight now. Pack
mentality. They'd be cowards enough to go for it. Shit
situation. He'd get hurt, unless he defused. If he defused,
he'd prove he had no balls. Fighting naked. Wonderful
way to get back into the rhythm of war.
Brit obviously didn't get it and there was silence for
a few heartbeats, then somebody slapped Vadim's ass.
"Bitch's been screaming last night."
London squaddie was back into his depth again and leered.
"I can make you scream alright." He moved
closer and made a stupid kissy-face.
slapped meant the others were too fucking close. Simple.
Safe distance, neutral distance, fuck it, this was too
close, and they knew it. Vadim advanced and brought
his elbow forward, nice clean sambo move along the lines
of 'jaws don't grow muscles'. Was rewarded with a grunt
and the guy spinning off balance. He could smell blood,
then brought his hands up to place an open-handed heel
strike on the next squaddie's nose, hoped it was the
bitch that had slapped him.
after that, it deteriorated into a nasty punch-up. No
points for style, it was just plain old dirty hand-to-hand,
and he was outnumbered. Pulled all the tricks in the
book, solar-plexus, head-butting, knee strikes into
the short ribs, axe-kicks to gain space. Slow, but powerful,
heel, back of the foot, elbows. Was nearly brought down
by somebody who dropped a double fist into his neck,
felt his body go numb for far too long, a kick into
the lower back pretty much finished the fight for him,
the pain only kept in check by the numbness from the
earlier hit. Fuck - he managed to cover his face, stagger
to the side, too many attacks, was disoriented, then
somebody took his hand by the wrist, pulled it to the
side like that and punched him straight in the face.
Numbing, disorienting pain. Steadied himself against
the wall, tasting blood. Fuck.
fight ended once he was down on the ground. One of the
squaddies - the first one, Vadim thought, and his hands
formed fists again, stepped up to him. "And I was
being nice, cunt."
glanced up, saw the man adjust his cock in the trousers,
provocative. Stayed out of reach.
fucking coward", hissed Vadim.
bastard didn't move closer, reluctant even that way,
instead brought his leg forward to deliver a kick. It
wouldn't have hurt much, he was only wearing trainers,
more a stomp than any fancy shit. Vadim thought he should
take it, but his body had different ideas. He lunged
up and forward, grabbed the guy's leg by the knee and
brought it up hard, shouldering into him and dropping
his weight onto the other man, who didn't have enough
breath in the impact to make more of a sound than his
skull on the floor. Vadim's hand found his pulse under
the jaw and squeezed, hard, pressed the heel of his
hand down on the bastard's voice box, perfectly willing
to make him drown in his own blood. "Fuck you
was pulled off again, freed himself and staggered off,
hearing coughing behind himself. The Cockney would live.
woke up in a murderous mood. He hadn't had enough sleep,
but had to be on duty. Close security, thus no chance
for illicit booze at night. Being completely sober didn't
help with the sleeping, nothing to stop the thoughts,
memories surfacing unhindered and he'd all but given
up on sleep, stewing in rage instead, when he'd finally
dropped off towards morning. Only to be woken by his
alarm half an hour earlier than usual. Eager to avoid
the Russian cunt during the morning ablutions, Dan had
been in the showers before anyone else, then in the
washing block, shaving the first time of twice every
day, and finally frequenting the row of loos.
in the line for breakfast, he was getting pissed off
even more, because despite his early morning routine
he had been held up by the Quartermaster, trying to
exchange his body armour that got somewhat fucked the
day before. He could have done without a discussion
and a promise 'not to do anymore crap' with it. Yeah,
right. Sometimes, kicking the shit out of ceramic plates
was the best way to avoid killing another human.
in hand, brows dark and mood even darker, eyes hidden
beneath the shades, Dan was standing behind Mick, one
of his team mates, and in front of Dave, an Ex-RA gunner,
who for once was refraining from making an arse-groping
oh-so-funny comment. Dan would have his balls for breakfast,
and the guy knew it.
comments raised their ugly heads as Vadim entered the
heard the voices, could tell the mood without having
to understand the words, made the mistake to look up.
Fuck. The bastard. And there he had been trying all
morning to avoid the cunt. Averting his eyes before
he had to take a proper look at the Russian.
was just in time because he hadn't gone for the jog,
figuring the fight had been enough exercise, but of
course he looked like he had had a fight. His lips tingled,
swollen and raw, his back ached badly from the nasty
hit into the neck, and there were a few places on his
body where he would most likely grow bruises. The camo
covered most of those, but the face was difficult to
hide. He probably walked stiffly, too, which was the
reason for the comments. The bitch had got it. Haha.
kept his jaw muscles clenched, kept just barely from
grinding his teeth. Queued for the food, held the tray
and remembered how to hit and strike with that shape.
He was dying to bring it full force into somebody's
throat. Not a bad weapon at all. But the main thing
was not being tripped over or having the tray kicked
or punched from his hands.
got an assortment of English breakfast, fat and grease,
but surprisingly good, if his cardiovascular system
could forgive him, then found himself a safe route around
the benches, never within touching, punching or tripping
distance. When he reached the empty table without problem,
he knew it would be harder on the way back. It always
had got his own breakfast, double helpings of sugar
laden cereal and the usual blood-clogging full fry up
with stacks of fried bread on the side of his overflowing
plate. Finding a seat amongst his team mates, he was
about to stuff himself and wash it all down with a jug
of coffee. Sod's law, when he looked up from ladling
the food down his neck, he was confronted smack bang
with the man he had tried to avoid. Even through the
dark shades, seeing Vadim was like a shock to the system.
Fucking arsewipe! He had to be doing that shit on purpose.
Dan grunted something vile into his food, shovelled
more cereal down, before forced to look up again to
drink his coffee. Almost choked on the brew, spilling
some of it, when he caught a glance of the bruised face.
the fuck had happened? No. Don't care.
back down again, chomped and chewed on the next spoonfuls
of crunchy sugary stuff as if violently devouring a
particularly evil spell. That fucking Russian be damned.
Bastard. Cunt. Arsewipe.
the fuck had he got into that state?
he didn't care. He couldn't give less of a shit. Couldn't
possibly feel that sudden sharp sense of red-raging
anger, wanting to cut whoever was responsible for beating
the Russkie up into thin strips, roasting them over
an open fire. Vadim was his. His to touch, his to hurt.
any longer. Dan scraped the last of the cereal out of
the bowl before tearing into the sausages and bacon.
He didn't care. Didn't give a fuck about the obvious
signs of a fight. No. Couldn't afford to feel nor think.
skin was taut, he was ready to stand and fight, could
feel how the place turned against him, the comments,
the sudden change in topics. Cocksucking. Ass. Bitch.
Cowardice. Weakness, groping. What bitches wanted and
what they deserved. He ate, kept his gaze straight ahead,
peripheral vision wide open. No knife. He better not
kill or incapacitate. He was not an officer, this was
not the Soviet Army. Fuck. If freedom meant being ridiculed,
he would walk home to the Lubyanka and ask to be taken
felt a touch on the shoulder, firm, a tray moved within
vision, all slow, non-threatening. Jean. "You alright?"
The 'Frenchman' asked in Russian and sat down opposite,
keeping his eyes on the area behind Vadim's back. Vadim
was grateful, despite the fact that the Russian made
him tense inside. He knew Jean would signal with his
eyes if anybody moved closer. Saw tousled dark hair
and sunglasses two rows up front, shit, too close, even
with five or six men between them. Too close.
off horse." Vadim sipped his tea. Didn't want to
speak about it, not in Russian, not in a perfectly conversational
tone that Jean had started, and stubbornly stuck to
English, whether Dan could hear it or not. "I broke
my wrists in '72, falling off a stupid horse."
And yes, it means wanking is less fun."
head was lowering further into the food. Didn't want
to see, didn't want to know. Of course, the legionnaire.
Would make a good pair; the perfect fucking couple to
shoot into fucking pieces of fucked-up meat on a fucking
patrol out there in fucking Iraq. Fucking bastards!
tried to ignore the Russkies' conversation, starting
to chat with Mick, discussing the plans for the day
and the route their armoured vehicle should take. Plotting
an alternative route, never the same one for their charges.
Talking, just to drown out the words that came wafting
over from across.
gave a laugh, which was good. Nobody would assume Vadim
was crying his heart out. "You should hear the
rumour mill, Vadya. The squaddies are yakking, yak,
yak, like babushkas." In Russian. Again. It was
beginning to irritate Vadim.
ex-legionnaire ate a pile of toast and thick gelatine-covered
pieces of spam for breakfast, and coffee. Clearly less
enthused about the English approach to a coronary.
Vadim replied in English.
to the rumour mill, you've slept around and Mad Dog
caught you. Or knows it somehow. While he was risking
his life." Jean laughed again, an unpleasant sound.
"Unfaithful girl betraying her squaddie lover,
old story. Rings a bell with many of these guys."
I thought it might be worse."
it gets worse. That's the story from Mad Dog's mates.
The ones that don't care he likes ass. They hate you
because he does. Hooray for the right to be an individual."
laughed. Oh boy, that felt good. It took the pressure
down a notch. "And the other story?"
much of a story, just planning the next attack. Fucking
faggots need to get their teeth bashed in, cut their
faces, cut off their cocks and balls and all that. It's
you turn your back, Vadya." Jean did actually look
a little worried. "Figure I should tell you that.
Being your team leader and all that."
finished his last slice of toast. "I liked the
bit with the elbow. Good work." He stood and took
his tray away, seemingly unconcerned about the attention
on him. Them. The bastard had seen the fight in the
showers and not interfered. Vadim glared after him.
had managed to drown out the conversation, but caught
the motion and despite his best intentions, raised his
head to see the legionnaire standing and leaving the
table. Old habits died hard, had to check what was going
on around him at all times. He was about to point out
to Mick and a newcomer to their table, how they should
avoid the recently shot-down rubble in the Western area,
when he caught a glimpse of a man standing up and waving.
Midge. Fuck. Ringleader. He'd broken that guy's nose
twice already and had received more bruises in return
from the bastard's gang during the first two weeks,
than he'd received throughout all of his army career.
Mad Dog!" The ginger merc was shouting over from
across three rows. "Why the dark look? Thought
you'd be whistling today, figured you'd got some man-cunt,
now that your bitch is back."
pushed the sunglasses off his eyes, a sign for anyone
who knew him, that he meant business. Nothing else could
get him to take off his shades. Placing each palm beside
his tray, he pushed himself off the bench to stand.
Ignoring what was going on at the Russkie's table, refused
to acknowledge Vadim's existence.
The. Fuck. Up, Midge." Each word clearly pronounced.
"Unless you want to swallow your own blood. Again."
cookhouse fell silent, the reaction was unlike Mad Dog's
usual banter, who took every insult with his piss-taking
sharp and nasty sense of humour, not a threatening seriousness.
looked up, this Midge guy was too close, two yards counted
as too close. He kept him in the corner of his eye.
The bastard wouldn't start a fight right here, right
now? Would he?
can make you whistle." Vadim said and got up. "That
is what you want, come. I teach you whistling."
Too loud in the silence. But he wouldn't allow Dan to
keep acting like he was his bitch or ex-bitch. His own
couldn't help it. His head turned a fraction, glancing
at Vadim. Fuck. The bastard sounded and acted like he
used to. Unlike that one night he'd seen him last. He
fucking hated the cunt right now, more than ever. He
was about to snarl in anger at Midge, who was making
exaggeratedly camp hand gestures and wiggling his stupid
arse, when there was a sudden commotion.
Immediately." The voice was no-nonsense, un-amused,
and obviously used to giving orders. "No fighting
in the mess. You know the rules, Forces or not. Get
the fuck out. Now."
fighting. This would be slaughter", Vadim muttered
under his breath. Looking at Midge with all the emotion
of a butcher. He wanted to cut his throat. No, worse,
a far darker urge, one that he hadn't felt in a long
time. It would be worthwhile to make the man scream
and break him, once and for all.
visibly twitched. Had to refrain, bound to keep order,
but hated him. Hated Vadim for making him remember,
reminding him of the knowledge that if they fought side
by side instead of being enemies, they'd be an unstoppable
force. Fighting. Fucking. It hurt to the bone.
turned his attention to the RSM. Fucking joy. No point
to mess with the Sergeant Major. He could see the man
pointing first at him and then to the exit and shrugged
to his mate. Mouthing 'later, vehicle park', before
grabbing the remains of his breakfast in one hand, greasy
toasts, last sausage and all, to weave his way through
the rows of tables and benches. No point in arguing
with the RSM. He'd been marked as a trouble maker long
ago, so he better kept a low profile. Successful mission
or not, if he was a destructive force amongst the troops
he'd find himself out of a job before he could finish
moved, knowing that under the eyes of the NCO nothing
could happen to him. He turned his back on Midge, walked
close enough past him to smell his aftershave, a biting,
citrusy concoction he would be able to identify and
sniff out in the darkness, if it came to that, and put
the tray away. Allowing Dan to move first, then himself,
making sure he couldn't get attacked in the back the
moment he stepped outside. Snarling at Midge on his
way past. "That wriggle
good one. You might
have talent as a faggot." Not letting it go, no.
shades were dropped back over his eyes before before
he stepped outside, turning his head to check on Midge.
"Don't be stupid." In Russian, to Vadim, without
looking at the cunt, instead keeping the other Merc
in his vision. "Time for work."
that Dan turned, tried to stop giving a shit and left
both men behind, the sound of nasty laughter in his
ears from the ginger twat. Whatever happened now, it
wasn't his business. Making his way back to the cookhouse
entrance, Dan rapped his knuckles a few times against
the door. He was less than twenty yards away, trying
hard not to listen to the scraps of sounds drifting
over while getting his extra bag of packed lunch from
would know all about faggot talents, wouldn't you, bitch?"
Midge glanced towards Dan in the distance, as if he
wanted to make sure Mad Dog wasn't in earshot. Appeared
to be wary while smirking at Vadim. "I'll get you,
when you least expect it, and you'll squeal like a little
girl." He bared his teeth, ugly in his hatred.
mean like your mother when her dog fucks her?"
Vadim turned to face the merc, pose deceptively relaxed,
ready to fight.
sneered, didn't take the bait. "Good thing me mother's
dead, innit, bitch?" Tension in his stance, once
again glancing over to where Dan had been, only a minute
ago. "Just remember. I'll get you, and it'll hurt
worse than a virgin on her wedding night." Casting
another nasty grin, Midge turned and hurried into the
same direction that Dan had vanished to.
mother must have died of embarrassment at seeing you
after shitting you in the toilet", said Vadim,
loud enough for Midge to hear it. A bit weak, but hitting
the same spot made sense when the other flinched. And
Midge had flinched. He shook his head and headed towards
the armoury. Time to pick up kit, get fitted with body
armour, gear, and the whole lot. Oh yes, and sunscreen.
Protection factor 50 or more. He could already feel
his skin tighten.
introduced him to the rest of the team. It seemed Jean
had them under control. His style of leadership was
exactly what Vadim had seen from him so far: he seemed
laid back, friendly, open, and led by example, leading
from the front like they were equals on some fundamental
level, and he was just happening to be the leader. Not
one to be seduced by the trappings of power or become
a bastard just because he had the command.
the next day, out in the field, Vadim could confirm
his assessment. Jean was completely no-nonsense under
pressure. Calm like a bomb. Vadim noticed how Jean's
eyes gleamed when he focused, the way his jaw set. Couldn't
help but notice the shape of his lips, neck. But then,
it was security duty, boring as hell. Sickeningly tense
for a few heartbeats, then mostly the dazing, glaring
heat that wore him down, especially in the armour.
it felt so familiar he caught himself smiling. Now,
this was something he knew, something he could do, easily.
Finally. Some semblance of home.
next week did not bring any change, certainly not for
the better. Sparring didn't seem to take the pressure
down for Vadim. Fighting with gloves and protection
just didn't satisfy. Punching bags, lifting weights,
running, hitting and kicking pads that Jean held for
him didn't satisfy. It merely seemed to make the dark
flood rise, increase pressure, fill the space inside,
and the nightmares stoked the fire. He took the anger
with him into the showers, and the first week was a
haze of heat, dust, punch-ups, duty, training, sleep.
never closed his eyes, never turned his back. His body
fell into that rhythm, knowing he was only safe when
Jean was around. The legionnaire had his own gang, comprising
of his team and the friends of his men, presumably people
he had worked with before or shared history with. And
as easy-going as he was, he was also surprisingly sane.
Jean stayed around to play chess (which he would have
been good at if he had bothered to think beyond the
fifth or sixth move), and to chill, and to lift weights.
was itching for a fight. No, worse than itching. It
was as dark and cruel a desire as he'd ever felt, much
worse than any itch, a burn, a wound in his flesh, no
less painful than Dan's knife that had carved his back.
A proper fight, no holds barred, he wanted to break
and destroy, permanently, wanted to take something apart
in a way that nobody would be able to tell what it had
been, but he remembered the warning about knives, and
didn't carry any when the bitches came for him.
was nearly a ritual. They were waiting for a mistake,
for him to be alone and unprepared, and sometimes they
managed, or Vadim sought them out to take the pressure
down. Splitting lips and punching jaws, the pain in
return keeping the darkness away. He got the reputation
to pick a fight for nothing but a sneer, nothing but
a crude gesture.
sneering there was plenty. He was Mad Dog's bitch, after
all. He would have to fight the whole camp, that was
what it felt like, and he'd rather have cut their throats
in their sleep. But Jean's presence was worse. And the
fact he spoke Russian, as if to do him a favour, but
it felt like a knife in his brain. He detested, he hated
that, he wanted to punch Jean every time the bastard
called him 'Vadya', like they were close, or lovers,
not getting any better", said Jean, starting to
shed his body armour in the tiny room that was his quarters.
Nothing much in there - it could have been Vadim's room,
apart from the photos blue-tacked to the metal wall
near the bed. Vadim leaned in to have a closer look.
It looked like cut-outs from a fashion magazine, even
though he was halfway sure not even fashion magazines
showed their models bent over like on the first picture.
That skirt rode up awfully high to reveal a glimpse
of black slip. Or it was just shadow.
glanced at him. "C'mon, not like you could do anything
looked at the bed, thought this was the place where
Jean jerked off, staring at the darkness between those
legs. Fuck. He swallowed. The back was slender, a white
shirt, pilot style, open at the shoulder. She couldn't
wear anything, not even a bra, that would have been
visible, so Vadim assumed her breasts were nothing but
a handful on her bony, long frame. Hair was clearly
a wig, a sleek chin-length cut, face slightly turned
to look over her shoulder, but the fake hair covered
most of her features. One dark eye, fake lashes, make-up
like a mask, moist glistening reddish purple lips formed
could imagine Jean with that girl, who looked something
like sixteen, seventeen, but already in full slut mode.
Long fingers in white silk gloves, splayed on her lower
back, an invitation, she wouldn't dream of pulling the
nothing of black leather skirt down.
Sex on legs", said Jean.
does some modelling on the side."
kind of modelling?"
lifted the body armour off and placed it near the bed,
the shirt underneath dark with sweat, clinging to his
body, showing off lines and planes, muscle, and his
sixpack. "What do you mean?" Calm, but Vadim
detected something like
jealousy. If it hadn't
doesn't really seem to wear much."
gave a short laugh and pulled his shirt off, tossed
it on the ground. The sixpack was exactly as imagined.
There were some freckles on his shoulders, a few tattooed
lines on his left pec. 'AB+', in Latin, Cyrillic and
what looked like Kanji, Chinese, Arabic and a few other
alphabets. Just in case he got shot, Vadim supposed,
or maybe it was some kind of personal joke.
mean for wanking material?" Jean seemed relaxed,
but that meant nothing. "Sexy stuff like that,
but nothing worse."
do you know?"
doesn't undress beyond that, not for the camera."
could feel the reservation, just knew Jean was hiding
something. He should let it go, accept the half-lie,
but it intrigued him. He imagined that body before him
strain against that ass, imagined Jean's cock take her
from behind, like that, rough, fuck her raw. Probably
the exact same thing that Jean imagined when lying there.
The whole purpose of that photo. "Guess you're
one lucky bastard, then."
can say that again." Jean grinned, like mocking
him, that shit-eating, overconfident grin that Vadim
had got so sick of in the last week, and something snapped,
pressure valve exploded. Might have been the image of
Jean fucking that girl, or too much naked skin, or truly
that grin, hard to assemble and align cause and effect,
suddenly Vadim shoulder charged into him, tackled the
lighter man, made him stumble and hooked the legs out
from under him. Taking the reflex punch without feeling
it, and came crashing down on Jean, his whole weight
one massive punch that drove the air from the other's
surprise didn't last, Jean was fighting and Vadim needed
his whole weight to keep him down on his back, no way
he could turn him around. Could feel Jean's hand go
for the combat knife, took his elbow with his hand,
lifted it and brought it down so hard on the ground
that Jean would have screamed with pain if Vadim's hand
over his mouth had let him.
knife", hissed Vadim and pushed the weapon away,
the arm useless now. Jean was right-handed, that meant
he only had the left hand to fight with. And his legs,
and the torso. Vadim could smell the stress, shifted
his weight to force the legs apart. Jean's eyes grew
wide and he began to breathe hard through the nose,
clearly stress, fear, on top of that pain.
am nobody's bitch, tovarich. That includes Dan. You
staring at him with wide blue eyes, sweat beading on
his forehead, nodded against his hand.
his girl. It was me who had him. I fucked him, in Kabul.
And he loves cock. Can't get enough of it." Vadim
used the sharper angle, forced his knees between Jean's
legs, came groin to groin with him. Felt the man shudder
with revulsion, felt his stomach sweat. "Like I
could take you right now", just breathing that
into Jean's ear, grinding against him, slow, deliberate,
using pressure and weight. Enjoying this more than he
should, could come like this, easily. Enjoyed too much
to have Jean under control, the only thing he had under
control. Nothing the other could do. Scream for help?
eyes closed, the pressure of his legs subsided and it
seemed like he was moving against Vadim, probably to
get him off faster, to appease him. He was hard, worked
against him with determination, Vadim's hand moved between
them and released the belt buckle, nearly tore the fly
open, snarling with aggression, freed the other and
pushed against him. Jean's cock finding skin where his
shirt was pulled up from the fight, hot, strong, sweaty,
exactly what Vadim needed, needed even worse than killing.
Jean's eyes were closed, whatever he imagined, it wasn't
Vadim, and Vadim wanted to punch him to make him acknowledge
his presence, his identity, as he came already. Managing
just barely to suppress the groan, forced himself harder
against that body until he was spent.
on top, still keeping the other pinned, Vadim didn't
resist when Jean pulled his hand off his mouth. No way
he'd shout for help, not in this position. It looked
too willing. Too much like Jean didn't mind at all,
never mind the bruise that was forming on his elbow.
"Now, that's better", said Vadim and began
to stroke Jean, who shuddered from the touch, eyes still
closed, lips pressed together like he feared Vadim would
try to kiss him.
won't hate me for long, thought Vadim, and moved down
his body, saw his cum run along Jean's flank, the smell
of it, and the sweat in the heat of this place.
took the cock, but didn't try to finish him off quickly,
took his time, the last bit of power that Jean's body
could give him. And he took it, knew he was probably
thinking of that girl of his and he didn't mind, didn't
remind him, not now, took him deeper and harder, eventually,
and made him twitch and push and cum.
stood to find water to wash the taste away and rummaged
through Jean's kit for the bottle.
" Jean groaned and reached for the
discarded shirt with his left hand to wipe himself down.
"I think I understand now why Mad Dog hates you."
nearly dropped the bottle, turned to face the legionnaire,
who got up and stepped away, just out of reach, still
breathing hard. "What?"
got me." Jean leaned down to pick up his knife
and slid it back into its holster. Still with his left
hand. "I should cut you open like a pig. Only finishing
you off would be a fucking mercy. And I'm not merciful.
Get the fuck out of here. And if the medic says you
broke my fucking arm, I'll kill you."
you bitch came."
make my skin crawl, Krasnorada. You got what you wanted,
now fuck off to nurse your fucking self-pity and get
yourself killed for some shit. And count your blessings
that I have more fucking honour in my finger than you
in your whole fucking body. Get the fuck out."
wanted to protest, but Jean turned around and continued
to change, as if he had already left. He didn't hate
the other man, hadn't actually wanted to fight or fuck
him, not his intention, even though he had wondered
about Jean. Had wondered about how that man insisted
on being his friend just on the basis of the fact they
had both been born in the same city. And were both deserters
of some description.
understand why he hates you.
went deep, turned the buzz into acid. Nothing had gone
like he wanted it to go; he hadn't wanted to do this,
if anything, he'd have taken it slow, or not at all,
but somehow, his body had wanted this man. He had wanted
to punch him and have him, fuck him slow or hard, but
have him some way. It felt damn good to be able to do
this, felt good to feel a body shudder and tense with
a soft snort from the legionnaire. "And to think
that Mad Dog warned me. He was right about you. You
can't be trusted. That's the deal about you. You're
not afghantsy. You're just scum."
a predator, devoid of any humanity. An animal, ruled
by animal urges.
didn't know what he felt and what he didn't feel. Oddly
defenceless against the hostility and had managed to
ruin everything. Including the developing 'friendship'
with the man who called himself Jean. All gone. Wasted.
The only man that had even attempted to respect him.
Nothing was how he had imagined it to be, when he had
contemplated meeting Dan again. Nobody respected him
here, Dan didn't even look at him, they couldn't
talk, Dan just went on living his life. Of course, what
had he expected, he had walked away after all. Couldn't
have expected Dan to wait for him. So, it was over.
He'd screwed up and been defeated in everything that
turned and left. He'd find Midge. Time for another punch-up.
He needed to break something that deserved it.
same day Dan was hauled in front of the Officer in Charge.
Uncomfortably reminded of his days in the British Forces,
when he was barely more than a raw recruit and way before
SAS Selection. The sense of doom came rushing back,
even though he knew they had no jurisdiction over him
like they had over the regular troops, and neither had
he misbehaved in any way, not even partaking in one
of the many low-level brawls and secret punch-ups. Still,
once a squaddie, always a squaddie, and twenty years
could not wipe a hint of dread away.
felt even stranger once he stood in front of the Big
Wig's desk, not having to - nor bothering to - salute.
Out of place, but the niggling discomfort disappeared
when he realised he really was not part of the Forces
anymore. Smirking briefly as he stood while the CO was
still looking down, not acknowledging his presence.
Typical arrogant upper-class bastard, but Dan didn't
need to give a shit anymore. Still, he pushed the shades
off his eyes and perched them onto his forehead, the
one sign of respect to the man in charge. His face looked
bored, but his stance showed tension. Legs braced, arms
in his back. Standing like he had done on the day, back
in Blighty, when he'd had to defend his decision to
leave the Army after twenty years and without his full
pension. Four years ago.
waited another moment, but the condescending twat didn't
seem to bother acknowledging him yet, which was oddly
amusing in an entirely sickening way. Even if the CO
had spelt it out in neon letters, his dislike for Daniel
McFadyen could not have been more obvious.
you wanted to see me?" Dan's voice carried a hint
of bored sarcasm.
McFadyen, because it can't go on like this."
Dan was confused for a moment, what the fuck was that
ponce talking about?
know very well, McFadyen. The situation in camp is unbearable,
the atmosphere nothing but vicious."
frowned. 'McFadyen', again. Fuck that, the arrogant
arsehole should be addressing him with 'Mr', but he
let it drop.
Officer stared incredulously at Dan. "You know
damn well what I mean, do not try to play games with
me. There has been more violence in the last week, since
you have had that stand-off with Krasnorada, than ever
before. The men have been talking about that shouting
match of yours."
was hardly a 'match', Sir." Dan's jaws squared,
"as far as I remember, Krasnorada hardly returned
Officer stood up, brimming with rage all of a sudden,
almost shouting. "McFadyen, I do not feel like
laughing at all. Drop your infantile behaviour, it is
most inappropriate in this situation."
wondered for a moment if that throbbing vein on the
red-faced CO was going to burst, before deciding on
the most antagonistic course of action.
situation, Sir?" He could feel his own dark wave
of anger rising, barely held in check by opposing the
situation?" The Officer shouted, his face had
turned beetroot red. "Do not treat me as if I were
stupid! There are constant fights, the men are on edge,
there is aggression and violence spilling into the Mess
and the cookhouse!"
brows, lips tensing into a narrow line. "Does this
mean, Sir, that you are accusing me of being unable
to hold your men in check, due to my mere existence
in this camp, which coincides with the arrival of a
was it, the CO was losing it. "McFadyen, are you
accusing me of not having my troops under control?"
Sir," Dan's lips twitched, revelling in the momentary
satisfaction of having hit that twat, right into the
gonads, "I am merely saying that I cannot see how
this situation, nor any other that is connected to Vadim
Krasnorada, should have anything to do with me; be of
my making; could possibly be influenced by me. What
does the recent violence therefore have to do with me?
I was not involved in any fights in the past week."
you weren't." The CO snarled, "but you are
the root of it."
felt a bitterness well up in him that tasted like acid
in his throat. "Sir, with all due respect, how
the fuck am I the cause? Because I'm a fag and everyone
knows that? Sir, you have no jurisdiction over me in
that respect. Who I fuck is my personal matter, I am
not a member of the British Forces anymore, am not committing
any crime against the fucking rules, and have never
actively pursed my sexuality in camp." Yeah, and
that poncy bastard hated his guts, he could smell the
disgust at the word 'fag', like he could smell the stench
of dried sweat under his body armour.
use that language with me!" The man shouted, trembling
do you expect me to do, Sir? Snap my fingers and your
men accept the Russkie as their own? I'm not a fucking
fairy with a magic wand!"
may or may not be a 'fairy', but you and Krasnorada
clearly have a history." The Officer was beyond
losing it, both hands on the desk, leaning forward.
"The situation in camp is not about the Cold War,
this is about your past."
tensed, stood straighter, taller. "Sir, my past
is my own business."
McFadyen, not if it encroaches into the present."
said nothing, his dark eyes narrowing, jaws working
before he answered.
doesn't. There is no present."
CO stared at him, long and hard, not buying into any
of Dan's defence, but seemed to realise he wasn't getting
anywhere with him.
ever overstep the line, McFadyen or I'll bust your sorry
arse. I don't care what kind of Missions you have successfully
completed. If you go too far, you'll have it."
Ponce or not, the CO let his true colours show. Open
hostility, which Dan continued to stare down.
Officer waved a hand and Dan turned without another
word. He was burning with anger, needed to fuck or destroy,
couldn't have either and started to run instead. Didn't
give a shit he was in combats and boots, pushed the
shades back over his eyes and headed towards the exit.
Let them shoot him down like a rabbit if he was unlucky.
Didn't matter shit. Just the heat in his lungs and the
pain in his knees and running until his body broke down.
cunt! Dan didn't know if he meant one or the other.
next day after Dan's bollocking from the CO, his body
was in such agony from overdoing the run, he rediscovered
how much a man could ache. Queuing in line for breakfast,
customary shades over his eyes, he stood with a stoic
expression, refusing to look around nor acknowledge
anyone except when he absolutely had to.
could do with a day off to rest, but fuck, that'd make
things worse. Would get him to think, and thinking without
proper solitude like the Afghan mountains would get
him down even more. Needed all his strength and considerable
willpower to not think. Not remember. Not feel. Just
exist. Even the damned yanks were conspiring against
him, the kid wouldn't be available before Saturday at
the earliest. How the fuck he was meant to get through
the week was beyond him.
turned when a mate tapped his shoulder, nodded to him,
barely bothering to grin, was in the process of once
more looking straight ahead at the back of his foreman,
when something caught his eye. Despite all good intentions,
his vision was draw to the legionnaire. Stupid wannabe
French bastard who was nothing but yet another sick-fuck
Russian. But something was wrong. Something
The guy sure as fuck hadn't had his arm in a sling the
day before, and as far as Dan knew the git hadn't even
been on duty, but was sporting a lily-white bandage
around his elbow, with the arm in a sling. How
Dan realised he had been staring and musing for too
long when he caught the legionnaire's attention. Great.
Fuck. He'd rather chew off his own hand.
looked over, met Dan's eyes and moved into the queue
as well, managing with his left hand, which looked nowhere
near precise nor strong, but he bore it with an ironic
smirk, when somebody asked him whether he had overdone
the wanking. Gathering his breakfast, which took longer,
he gave Dan a nod of acknowledgement. "Sorry, won't
be securing your flank today in the transport. Knowing
my luck, this will be the day when something interesting
brows rose above the shades. Moving stiffly when he
turned, damned advancing age. "What the fuck happened,
my elbow. That could take a few days to heal up. Guess
I'll be cleaning rifles for a while." The self-irony
paled a little at that, the merc clearly resented those
aspects of duty. Jean balanced the tray with the left
hand and held it against his chest.
bad." Dan shrugged, then made his way towards one
of the empty tables. Scanning the room, eyes hidden
beneath the shades, as he searched for the Russian.
Had to avoid Vadim, couldn't bear it. Impossible. Cutting
too deep. Deeper than the Russian's scars.
didn't know nor care if the legionnaire was following
him, until he sat down on the bench and found the Belgian-French-Russian-whateverthefuck
seated opposite to him.
your elbow." Dan remarked casually, while sorting
his bowls and plates, then pouring a triple helping
of sugar into his black coffee. "Just like that,
glanced up as somebody called his name and tried to
wave him over. Pascal. One of his usual team. "Later",
he called over, then looked at Dan again. "Was
working on my chest muscles. Too many press-ups, then
a bad move during sparring." He reached for his
coffee, then remembered the sugar, let the coffee go,
reached for a pack of sugar, tore it open by keeping
one corner of the pack between his teeth, then poured
the sugar in, and stirred with his left hand. "Seems
we're all training too hard."
Dan paused, tilted his head in his usual manner, before
stirring his own coffee. "and since when do you
talk to me?" Took two of the fried pieces breads
and bit into them simultaneously. "I remember that
you figured I wasn't worth it." While chewing.
got off on a bad start." Jean rearranged the cutlery
to the left side of the plate, then put the knife back,
clearly having to get used to being a lefthander for
the time being. "Nothing we can't sort out, I'm
thinking. There's already too much shit going on in
this camp." Tone deceptively light, he didn't meet
Dan's eyes, apart from the last word.
chewed on his bread until he had finished both slices,
watching the legionnaire all the time, before grabbing
a couple of sachets of tomato ketchup and slicing them
open with an expert flick of the knife. Knives - they'd
never disappointed him.
One word, acceptance. Squirting ketchup all over his
large portion of bacon, he tucked into the sausages
first of all. "A lot of shit going on." Shoved
half a sausage into his mouth, munching while watching
the other from behind his shades. Swallowed. "Got
a bollocking from the CO yesterday."
Pascal heard him shout." Jean made a rude gesture.
"Overpaid bitch." He paused for a moment,
then flashed a grin. "Bitch in the bastard sense."
Reached for the coffee and had to turn the mug around
to be able to grab the handle. "What about?"
snorted, shook his head, stuffed his face with an fork-full
of scrambled eggs. "The usual. Violence, aggression,
brawls, fights, shit like that. Thinks it's all my fault.
'I'm at the root of all evil' he said, or some crap."
He shrugged, washed the food down with his over sweetened
coffee. "Accused me of being the reason why the
shit's hitting the fan since the Russian arrived."
Dan couldn't help his jaw setting and his face showing
a reaction that he'd rather hide.
It's a well known fact the CO doesn't like fags. Especially
loud and outspoken ones, and in particular this one."
Dan pointed with the butter and ketchup smeared knife
towards himself, shrugged again. "Next thing it's
my fault the Yanks are hitting more of us with friendly
fire than the enemy."
seemed thoughtful, then shook his head, still clinging
to his coffee, not yet ready to eat like a left-handed
cripple. "The Russian's a loose gun. They wound
him up like a toy and let him go, like the fucking Duracell
bunny." He snorted into his coffee. "By all
rights and purposes, the CO has more reasons to hate
least the Russian hasn't been walking round telling
everyone he was a fucking poof, while itching for a
fight." Dan bared his teeth in a humourless grin,
before starting on the pile of mushrooms and hash browns,
adding a spot of ketchup dripping bacon to go with it.
speak of the devil." Jean nodded towards the queue,
where Vadim had appeared, moving like he was still tired
and stiff, clearly had had another fight.
Fucking bastard. Dan deliberately didn't look, refused
to acknowledge the arsewipe. Every glance cut deep to
the bone and it wasn't getting any better. It just fucking
hurt and Dan wondered if it actually got worse with
every day. "I wonder how long it takes before they
realise Vadim's going to cut them to strips every time
they try it on with him." Dan shrugged, "he
can be a psycho."
gave pause at that, tried a grin which faltered, then
drank coffee. "If he uses a knife he gets done
for murder, fucking spetsnaz or not." The legionnaire
sounded actually angry and his eyes followed the other
Russian, as Vadim made his way, careful again, to not
be tripped or intercepted or jostled, not that he was
easily jostled. Watching Vadim sit down, alone, not
even with Jean's team, even though they seemed to invite
him. The Russian chose to sit alone. "Very hard
to predict the man."
shook his head, still refusing to glance over. "Not
hard at all. Expect the worst; expect him to betray
you." Shoved another piece of bread into his mouth,
angrily chewing. No, not anger. Worse. Fucking rage
and hatred and goddamned hurt. So much pain, if only
he could make it stop and if he had to kill Vadim for
it, he would. "Not difficult to predict at all."
looked up, saw them together, and Jean reached out over
the table to touch Dan's arm. "Just to make sure:
Poof, whatever, I don't care what you fuck. Got me?"
stopped in the middle of eating, staring at the hand
on his arm. What the fuck had happened to the legionnaire,
singing to an entirely different tune than only a day
before. Instant dislike for each other, that's what
they had shared. For whatever reason he'd never bothered
to fathom. "I don't know what the fuck happened
to you, mate, nor do I want to know if Vadim had anything
to do with it, but I got it."
pulled his hand away, his team must have seen the gesture
and that was almost the typical Russian pair of kisses
for friends. Mad Dog was off limits, he was part of
the crew now, no snide remarks. "Good."
nodded, remembered to swallow. "Just don't expect
me to trust you." His grin was feral, "you're
Russian, after all."
Russia sent me to Afghanistan when I was eighteen."
Jean glanced up. "I came as a conscript, then decided
to not finish my term." He shrugged. "You're
as much Afganet as I am."
Dan smirked, "seems you're as much Russian as I
am English." He lowered his head, concentrated
on the food. Focussing on the good stuff, since there
wasn't that much left of the good things. Food, friends.
Friends? Plural? The Baroness? She'd interfered. The
Yank? Sex. Friendship? Who knew. Soldiers had mates
- couldn't afford friends.
I'm more of an Afganet than you are." Dan wiped
the last of the grease, egg yolk and ketchup off his
plate with a couple of pieces of toast. Anyone else
would turn into a fat-filled balloon with the amount
he was eating. Not him. Lean, tough, and weathered.
"Spent seven years in the mountains, working on
my own, then left the Forces and another two years in
Kabul, close security."
grinned. "Yeah, a turkey. I never got much of the
booty, though. Damned officers took everything."
He glanced at his plate, like considering whether he
should eat and didn't really seem to want to start.
It would mean putting down the coffee mug. "Ah,
fuck, getting all nostalgic after all those years. If
you want to compare notes, guess I'm free all day."
Jean gave a laugh. "And, no, I don't ask you for
a date, Mad Dog. You're a bit too broad in the shoulders
for my taste."
laughed and it felt good. Hadn't done so for a while.
Shaking that unruly mop of hair, still dark except for
the temples. "You're not my type anyway."
He smirked, "too straight."
his lips with the napkin, Dan caught a spot of grease
on his chin, which already sported a shadow of stubble.
"I prefer my shags to be willing." He grinned,
stood up, still avoiding the tall, blond man, several
to be off, might take you up on the offer." Taking
his tray Dan turned, glancing back at the legionnaire.
"Later." Walking off to do his day's duty
in sweltering heat.
was lying on his bunk, silently sweating, cursing the
bandage that soaked up his sweat and itched like the
clap, only more difficult to scratch. He wasn't supposed
to straighten the arm, damn lucky that the joint itself
seemed alright, no bone or cartilage splinters, just
pressure on the bit that held the joint together.
him of the day when he had almost lost it as a new arrival
in Afghanistan. When they had gang raped a woman whose
legs were very visibly broken. He'd seen a lot of shit,
heard people scream, but that one was still around in
his head. At least she wouldn't kick. Or run away. Damn
had brought Afghanistan right back, and the methods,
too. He didn't even want to look at Solange, would get
the wrong ideas. Better put up a different photo. Not
that he had anything more to do. He stood, set his bare
feet on the ground and wiped his face on his shoulder.
He switched on the light, waited for the temperature
to plummet. Used to temperatures in Djibouti, which
had one of the nastiest microclimates on the planet,
had sweated in French Guyana. He was alright, as long
as he drank enough water.
showered longer than usual, the heat had been the worst
almost forever. Bloody lucky he didn't
mind heat, nor cold, couldn't help the occasional thought
how much the Russian cunt had to be suffering. Tried
desperately to stop thinking of Vadim at every damned
inopportune moment, throwing himself into the work,
thankful for the utter exhaustion of his body, once
the sweat took everything out of him.
too, for the small mercy of his duties being re-scheduled,
leaving him with the chance to sleep in the next day,
not having to get ready before the early evening. Showered
and shaved a second time, he managed to acquire in highly
illegal ways a couple of bottles of port from the Mess,
thanks to a mate he'd made amongst the NCOs. Still wearing
the shades, no matter if it was dark or bright sunlight,
and dressed in flip-flops, cut-off camo shorts and t-shirt.
He'd take the legionnaire up on his offer, at least
that would give him something to stop thinking and remembering
what he couldn't bear thinking about.
on the door, he called out, "hey, cripple, fancy
looked up, didn't quite identify the voice, but booze
was good. "Come on in. It's not locked." Too
much of a fire hazard, or something. He didn't fancy
running into the door on the way to the shitter, either.
the door opened, he recognized Mad Dog. And two bottles.
Jean grinned and motioned. "Welcome to the oven
I live in." Nothing much to sit on, he took the
handle of one of the crates of kit and pulled it opposite
the bed, then tossed the woollen blanket over it. "Beats
club sofas, huh?"
grinned, kicked the door shut behind him. "Think
my room's any better?" He sat down on the makeshift
chair, shoved the shades onto his forehead. "Guess
I'm just a lucky bastard, got used to the heat years
ago. I don't mind." He shrugged, handed one of
the bottles to the legionnaire.
yeah. It's not like we have most wars going on in nice
climates. Maybe we should start something on Réunion,
or Vanuatu." Jean adjusted the light a little to
not shine directly into Mad Dog's face when he sat.
"Hm. Glasses. Nope."
glasses are for nancy boys and Southern poofs."
think you just started a war with France and La Legion."
Jean smirked. "We were entitled to half a bottle
of wine with meals. Decent quality, too. I used to trade
mine in, then they told me if I ever wanted to convince
anybody I'm properly Belgian, I should cut that and
drink the fucking wine."
Dan unwound the plastic off the first bottle, then pulled
the cork. "Slainte."
glanced at his arm. "The bottle opening hand is
worse for wear." He gave the bottle
back with a wry grin.
point." Dan traded the open bottle with the other,
uncorking that one as well. "However, how the fuck
you'd convince anyone you are a Belgian is beyond me.
You look like too many of the Russkies I ever encountered
in good old Afghanistan." He grinned, raised the
open bottle in a salute, took a swig of the port. Thank
fuck it wasn't a cheap one.
recruiter told me to say I'm Belgian. Never mind I don't
speak a word of their language, but apparently even
the Frenchmen who join the Legion are Belgians. Regulations.
The only Frenchmen are officers." Jean shrugged.
"Back in the day, they were hungry for fresh meat.
I imagine they have whole battalions that speak Russian
in one dialect or the other these days." He looked
at the bottle, then took a swig, blinking. "Nice
sweet. Ah. Slainte, was it?" Idly wiping
a tickling sweat drop off his side and into the camo
trousers. He only wore the trousers and the bandage,
and that was bad enough.
should at least put a shirt on, protect my modesty."
think I give a damn?" Dan wiped his lips with the
back of his hand, put the bottle down onto the floor.
"I find the myth that every gay bloke fancies every
male in existence damn funny." Pulling a packet
of fags out of his trouser pocket, he looked at the
other questioningly, asking without words if it was
okay to have a smoke in the room.
nodded. "Go ahead. Ah, fuck, give me one. It's
somebody would smell it."
lit one of the cigarettes for Jean, handed it over.
"Still, I guess I can't claim you're not my type,
eh?" His grin threatened to falter, but he had
himself under control.
drew his hand with the fag back, slowly, as if to hide
the moment of unease, or to make sure Dan understood
that he didn't mind. He wouldn't have known himself.
"I look nothing like him." He leaned back
to take a drag, slowly, just restarting a former habit.
On-off smoker. He had a habit of quitting. "Blond,
then? Blue eyes? Funny. I like my women dark-haired."
He gave a laugh. "All about contrast, huh?"
wouldn't know." Dan lit his own cigarette, drew
in a deep drag, relishing the burn in his lungs. "Haven't
got a type. Things just happened along the way. I wasn't
always gay, used to fuck women."
did?" Jean smirked, but it wasn't malicious. "Ah,
none of my business." Took another, deeper drag,
as if testing what his lungs thought of smoke. They
seemed to be fine with it.
laughed, a cynical, dry sound. "Aye, just one of
those things." And a Russian cunt who raped
no. No hatred, no love. No memories. Not now. Had to
distract his thoughts with something else
around the room, his eyes stopped at the wall over the
bed. Squinting at the photos in the murky light, Dan
tilted his head. "Holy fuck." Taking another
swig from the bottle before he stood up, taking a step
towards the pictures while dragging on his fag. "You
mind me taking a look?"
leaned to the side to allow Dan to take any of the photos
off the wall. "Take it."
was studying several of them, one more 'exotic' than
the other. Peering closely at one of them, the same
lady again, long black hair, dark eyes, an unmistakable
North African air about her beautiful frame. "She's
fucking beautiful. Is she a model?"
" Jean paused, then willed
himself to continue. "wears clothes for money,
and I assure you, that's hard work." Echoing somebody
picked the photo carefully off the wall. It was glossy,
showed the shortest mini skirt in the world on unbelievably
long, straight legs, and the highest fuck-me stilettos
anyone could wear. Narrow hips, small, perky breasts.
Wearing a corset type top and bare, slender arms that
played with something which looked like a black fur
studied the photo closely, smoking, standing right beside
noticed he didn't mind Dan being that close and would
have felt stupid if he had moved away. "There are
more over there." He nodded to the crate. "Don't
call me obsessive, okay?"
turned his head, grinning, sat back down on his improvised
chair, still looking at the photo. "That's class,
mate. That really is. What a lady. Even I can see that."
she's special." Jean seemed a little surprised
that a gay guy would say anything like that, but took
it as a compliment by proxy.
the picture in the light, Dan took in a deep drag of
the cigarette and then suddenly stopped, blinked, coughed
when he forgot he had his lungs filled with smoke. Squinted,
then looked up at Jean from under his lashes. "Don't
mind me saying that, but that beautiful lady has an
adam's apple. I figure you knew that?"
Jean paled. "Shouldn't have
left that on
the wall. Shit." He inhaled, deeply, looked at
Dan, suddenly nervous, guilty, ease gone. Opened his
lips a few times to explain, and aborted, wincing instead.
"You're the first ever that ... spotted that. Oh
fuck." Battled the shock, took him several long
moments. "Listen, I didn't know that when I met
a complicated story, okay? Shit. She's
no, just as
" Jean suddenly stood.
"I didn't know."
mate, what's the problem?" Dan handed the photo
back to the legionnaire, felt somehow that it belonged
into the other's hands, not his own.
took the photo and put it away, which gave him a moment
to try and compose himself. Hiding it in the other crate.
grabbed the bottle and took another swig, loving that
sweet stuff. "I remember I was fooled, yonks ago,
by a girl in the pub. OK, I was drunk, as usual, but
fucking hell, I remember she was hot. Damn shame I was
a gay bashing, poof hating, cunt fucking bastard back
then. Real cunts, you understand. Giggling girls."
He shrugged, a shadow of regret ghosting across his
deeply tanned face. "I beat her/his pretty face
into a pulp when I took accidentally hold of a package
between 'her' legs. She'd been wearing a snug necklace
or some shit, can't remember, but I sure as fuck hadn't
seen the adam's apple. Been a bit wary since then, I
guess, so I spotted it."
closed his eyes, nodding at the story. "I actually
had my knife out when I
worked it out. I was
just so fucking freaked. She looked better than the
real thing." He rubbed his face with the left hand,
then looked at Dan, still embarrassed.
the cigarette out on the floor, Dan grinned. "Takes
all sorts is what I say. Besides, what the fuck's the
problem? She's got class and she looks like a real woman,
guess she had that operation thing? Must be weird."
so weird. Yeah, the body changes. Operations should
be finished when I
go on R&R next. She promised
photos as soon as she's properly healed." Jean
looked at the wall, clearly longingly, obviously devoted
and in love, and knew himself how bare his emotions
were in that moment. Didn't manage to look at the other.
couldn't help but smile, his grin softening. The look
on the legionnaire's face didn't go hand-in-hand with
the hard arsed image. Had been a while since last he
saw anyone like that, let alone felt it himself. "Well,
legionnaire, I never in my life fucked anyone that beautiful.
So yeah, if she's your girlfriend, then I wonder what
the hell you did to deserve and keep such a lass."
He chuckled, winked at Jean, "that wasn't an invitation
to tell me exactly how you keep her happy. Not
don't tell them, right? I'm not
ah, my woman hasn't always been that.
She should be all sorted in a couple weeks. Apart from
that thing." He pointed at his own throat. "And
the size of hands and feet, but there are ways to hide
that." He groaned. "I sound like a fucking
expert. Serious, she's been never anything but a woman
for me." He reached for his bottle and drank, taking
several deep swallows. "Just can't see her harmed."
the fuck should I tell anyone?" Dan frowned, "don't
insult me, OK? You've never been my enemy, you just
couldn't stand my guts and I didn't give a fuck about
yours. Besides, even if you had been, I don't do sneaky
shit. Get it out and into the open, sling it out with
fists, if need be with knives, but insulting a man's
woman or man? No chance in fucking hell. No one will
know. Not from me." Left hand holding the bottle,
Dan took a swig, while his right reached out to the
other. "You have my word. Deal?"
stepped closer. "Just a healthy dose of paranoia."
Twisting his left hand to take Dan's right, he pressed
it for a moment. "Yeah. So. I never hated you for
being gay. My own stuff is pretty messed up as it is.
If anything, I hated you for acting as if the whole
fucking world belonged to you. That grated on my fucking
nerves. I thought you were full of shit."
gave the hand a firm shake, smirked with teeth and all.
"You're not so far off the mark, there. I am
full of shit." Clinked the bottle against Jean's
before taking another swig. He was getting half-way
through the potent stuff and started to enjoy himself.
"I took an instant dislike to you. Not your fault,
must have been the blue-eyed blond haired stuff."
huffed. "I look nothing like Krasnorada. I have
more than one facial expression, for one." Clinked
the bottle against Dan's, then sat back down on the
grinned, "Reason why I was running round telling
every arse, who didn't want to hear it, that I was gay?
Itching for a fight. Pressure valve, getting rid of
the whole load of crap inside." He shrugged, "worked
quite well, until recently."
the jarheads are too fucking scared to drink in the
same bar as you do? Loved that stunt. Seeing a bunch
of Marines run to mommy was priceless."
they aren't all that bad." Dan grinned at the memory,
though. He'd taken a lot of damage, that night, but
if he hadn't had the mad fight with a handful of pissed
off Yanks, he'd probably got himself killed the next
day on duty. "They are just so fucking young and
bloody naïve, it's almost painful." Chuckling,
Dan poured some more of the sweet stuff down his neck.
I guess. Plenty of beefcake, anyway." Jean started
to feel the alcohol. It punched just as hard as expected.
"Nothing in the world can be as young as an American,
I think sometimes."
Dan grinned to himself, sloshing the port in the bottle,
"there's meat alright."
felt himself relax, the alcohol dulled the throbbing
pain in his fucked-up elbow. "I guess I shouldn't
be saying this
" He waited for a moment.
"Or asking. You know. Don't want to spoil the evening.
There's the story in camp. Midge and his retards believe
Krasnorada was your bitch, and he cheated on you, and
you found out. And that's why you hate his guts."
froze, eyes wide. "What?" Complete and utter
disbelief in his face, and something else, something
much darker, almost insane. "What the fuck
do they think?" He shook his head, muttered something
under his breath. "Vadim was my bitch and slept
round and that's why I hate him?" The darkness
came welling up inside, tickling Dan's throat with hysterical
laughter. "Holy fuck." Couldn't say anymore
before the laughter broke out. He was almost pissing
himself as he let himself fall into a vat of insanity.
grinned. "I guess that's a no, then." He waited
till Dan could breathe properly again and seemed to
expect an outbreak of more laughter or violence, but
when nothing like that happened, he gave another grin.
"Okay. What about
you tell me how on earth
somebody like you - I mean, a
bastard who's full
of shit about being invincible and unkillable, but who's
pretty laid back otherwise
ends up being the
ex-lover of one of the scariest, most fucked-up dickheads
I've ever met. And yes, that includes the bitches who
trained me in French Guyana. What the fuck happened?
And what does he do in the Gulf and not in some other
meatgrinder? I mean, it's none of my business, really.
Or maybe tell me to shut the fuck up."
it's none of your business, but this whole shit is no
one's business, yet affecting everyone." Putting
he bottle to his lips Dan was tipping back more than
a quarter in one go. Wiped his lips. Almost empty. Time
for business. "You know the way you look at the
pictures of your lady? That look on your face, that's
love. Shit, I recognised it because I know that look.
I used to have it myself. I fucking loved him. Nine
years in Afghanistan, seven as a turkey, left the army
after knee surgery and they didn't want to send me back.
Went back anyway, because of him. Close security, whatever,
just back to Kabul and back to having a chance to be
wry grin burned like acid in his face. "Probably
sounds fucking impossible, eh? Love and all that shit.
Loving that madman, but I tell you what, legionnaire,
this here, that fucked-up bastard, is only a part of
him. It's the bad part, and that part is goddamned motherfucking
bad, so dark and nasty and brutal and without any remorse
nor regret, you don't want to be pulled in by its tide."
He shook his head, "but that's not the man I've
known for over eleven years. The man I knew and loved
saved my life in the mountains, when I lay wounded under
a pile of Muja corpses; shaved my face and gave me a
reason not to walk into the next bullet because I'd
been too weary to duck it; slept with me wrapped around
" he had to stop, inhaled harshly,
" this was getting too painful
and Dan shuddered, but still he ploughed on. "Too
much information, but that man crossed Pakistan and
India to get to a hospital where I was lying, dying,
blown to pieces by a fucking bomb meant for my charge.
That man sat sobbing, holding my hand, professing a
fucked-up love that I believed in."
paused, exhausted, put the bottle to his mouth again
and drained the last of the port. Feeling the alcohol
flood his blood, the only way, except for adrenaline,
to deal with all this crap.
didn't move a muscle, only winced every now and then,
holding the bottle in his left hand. Looked like he
wanted to say something when Dan paused, but pulled
back, and listened.
then it was all over. The Glorious Soviet Army left.
One last night in a hotel, promises, hopes and ridiculously
naïve wishes. Stupid, really, to think we could
have got away with nine years worth of secrets. The
KGB set him up, charged him. Traitor and all that shit.
Off to the Lubyanka. Loved that bastard so much, I fought
tooth and nail to try and save his life, and when it
was too late, when he was sentenced to death, I paid
a damn high price to get a message to him. But he wasn't
executed, the KGB wasn't all that stupid and the West
had too many offers that they wanted to take. Money.
Financial bribes. More fighting, but never giving up
and never surrendering. Pathetic, really."
shrugged, looked at the bottle, empty. Damn. "I
sold all my assets and we bribed the shit out of them.
Retrial, they let him go. Somewhere. Middle of nowhere
in Finland. Last Christmas, almost seven months ago.
I stood and waited and picked up a man who was a ghost."
Dan wiped his forehead, ran a hand through his hair,
before looking up. "He left. Walked away. No word.
Nothing. Left me fucking shattered." Tapping another
fag out of the package, he lit it and inhaled the smoke.
hate the fucking bastard."
looked at Dan, for long, long moments, again reaching
for words, and not saying anything for a while. Very
little he could say. "That's why he screams off
his head at night", he murmured. "Shit. Nine
years. Eleven, even. I was a kid back then. And I thought
my shit was complicated." He gave a small laugh,
shaking his head. "Woah. Shit." He stood and
walked over to Dan, tapping one shoulder with his bottle
that still held a third of liquid, offering it.
screaming?" Dan looked up, snatched the offered
bottle, looked straight into the other's face. "Screaming,
nodded, his hand now dropping on Dan's shoulder, firmly
settling around the round part, clasping. "Screaming
his head off. There have been complaints. Happened,
what, three nights out of seven. I tried to work him
hard in the gym, tried to get him tired, but it doesn't
seem to have any effect. And he's not talking about
it, either." He stood close.
was still looking, the hand on his shoulder felt good.
A yank. A Belgian. Several Brits as mates. He wasn't
doing too bad after all. His thoughts raced, one catching
the tail of the other, until then he suddenly shrugged,
holding the bottle tighter. "Not my business. Not
anymore." Tipping his head back, the bottle followed,
and Dan gulped down several large swallows. Wiping his
lips, he felt the alcohol strongly.
nodded. "Guess it's better to move on. You know
what? You could visit us in Paris on R&R, and we
make sure you get nicely distracted from this shit.
Paris remains top of the list for nightlife and quality
entertainment. And I mean quality." Patted
the shoulder, Jean tried to distract and get Dan out
of the gloomy state. He didn't have to know what the
Russian madman had done.
Dan grinned, feeling fuzzy, "move on. Paris, Yanks,
the next assignment." Really, that hand was doing
nice things. Buddy-like. "Sounds like a plan. But
can't imagine I'd go for a male whore. Have always stuck
to the female ones. Blowjobs are blowjobs." He
chuckled, forcing the memories down.
that's true." The hand moved to Dan's sweaty neck,
a gesture Jean would do with any of his team members.
Rest the head against his side, when they felt tired
and pissed and sad. "That how I met her. Got into
a fling with two girls in a nightclub. Okay, bar. Seedy
kinda money trap, but I was just out and needed to
get rid of some stuff. Took me a while to work out the
one that had been sucking me never got undressed."
Jean laughed. "Oh shit. No female bits, there,
apart from those lips. They were female alright."
chuckled, moving his head towards that hand in his neck.
Was alright, un-sexual, the touch of a mate. He couldn't
remember when he'd last felt anything like that. "Must
have been a fucker of a shock. How did you manage not
to freak? You said there was a knife involved."
better have a knife." Jean gathered
his thoughts. "We ended up in one of the dingy
places there. The other girl was asleep, I was so high
on freedom, I could have fucked them both all night.
She was halfway through giving me a blowjob when I tried
to get her to proper fucking. I mean, she was prettier
than the other one, and I'd already had that bitch in
all ways. Just wanted to continue with her, so I guess
I asked a little roughly, and she said I could fuck
her ass if I didn't touch her. I thought what the fuck,
yeah, and I think I was a bit loud, and went a bit rough,
tore her dress, massive ruckus. The other bitch wakes
up and starts screaming, and she freaks, too, and out
comes the knife. I was really close to cut that bastard's
throat. So she starts crying and begging for her life,
and swears to God and Allah that all she had wanted
was suck me off and that was no reason to kill someone."
inhaled. "She was crying and clinging to my hand
and I thought, fuck, something's seriously wrong. I
believe her. I mean, that was
the body was male. But the crying, all that stuff, that
was a woman. Guess I dropped the knife and calmed her
down. That friend had run off to get the police, well,
good luck finding an honest flic in Montmartre. Made
sure she got home alright. She was so flustered she
kept losing shoes."
had closed his eyes, listening, just letting that hand
rub his neck. "And then? You took her home."
Felt that he shouldn't be nosy, but fuck, was good to
hear about someone else's life for a change. He had
to smile at the story. If that wasn't a bloody romantic
love story, then what was. Better than rape, torture,
death and destruction.
She told me she played with the idea to let me sleep
on her couch, but feared I'd kill her on second thought,
so locked and bolted the door and swore never to pick
up horny soldiers again." Jean laughed. "Next
morning, I remember what happened, and check whether
she's alright. She's still scared, but kinda works out
I might not kill her, so we go out for a walk and she
tells me she has a thing for soldiers and I'm stupid
enough to ask for that blowjob. Because, damn, she was
good. Yeah, and made up and everything, that morning,
so I thought just don't think about what she actually
is. But seriously? In daylight, when she wasn't scared,
she made it pretty damn special. And I thought, okay,
the world's best cocksucker is well, that. Cool. Whatever.
I don't have to touch her, right? So, we meet. Bars,
nightlife, and everybody buys she's a woman. And at
the end of the night she asks me to fuck her ass. And
she likes it, goes completely crazy for my body, can
hardly peel her off me for a week. I mean, she was on
hormones already, and you could feel her go softer,
the skin changed, you can just see that's becoming a
woman in front of your eyes, right under your hands.
While you fuck her. Completely blew my head off. She'd
been doing some modelling, but wanted the operation
badly, so yeah, I didn't really want to deal with her
guess I blew a fair part of my money on
getting her fixed up."
grinned, his eyes still closed. "While it's a fucked-up
story, you do realise you're a bloody romantic sap."
Opening one eye, he peered upwards.
glanced down. "Yeah, right. Ex-Russian ex-Legionnaire
so fucking horny he'd take anything. Algerian transvestite
with a taste for camo. We make something really special
is a great thing, but you're far off that one. Head,
heels, and over, now put that back into the right order."
Dan chuckled, "hope you'll have a 'happily ever
after' to that story and not some crazy shit."
Rubbing his eyes, hell, he was booze-mellowed and tired
from a hard day in the heat. "If you ever need
a best man, tell me. I'll slap that ring on, alright."
smiled, held Dan's head to his side, one hand still
stroking the other's neck. "As soon as the papers
are sorted out. Fucking bureaucrats get a kick out of
delaying shit. But yeah, if I need a best man, I'll
ask you. Only thing: you will not wear a scrap of camo
while in her line of sight." Patting the neck again.
"Shit, that was a nice evening. Beats the hell
out of yesterday."
Even though I'm afraid as beautiful as your lady is,
I'm really not interested. Not quite a 'red hot blooded
male' in that respect. Now, if she'd left that cock
on, then we'd be talking." Dan laughed, kept his
head where it was, enjoying the physical contact. He
just didn't get enough of that.
right. No way."
happened last night?" Dan asked, out of the blue.
paused. "I was talking to Krasnorada last night.
He just gave me the creeps. Ranted about being nobody's
bitch and he'd teach them a lesson. Something along
those lines. We had a bit of a fight. I tried to calm
him down and got my elbow nearly ripped off for my troubles.
Bastard stormed off afterwards. Good riddance."
nodded. "Sounds like him, I guess." He started
to get up, despite the port and tiredness only slightly
unsteady on his feet. "Guess I better head off."
Feeling more relaxed than he'd done for ages. "Could
do with a shag but won't get anything for a week."
same here. Hope they let me go earlier on R&R. Fucking
elbow." Jean stepped away and smiled. "Thanks
for the booze."
legionnaire, a night like this was just what the doctor
ordered." Walking to the door, Dan glanced back
before pushing the shades over his eyes, "have
a wank on my behalf." He grinned, a flash of teeth
in the darkness.
said than done." Jean laughed and pointed at his
arm. "Doctor said absolutely no strain." He
paused, then winced slightly. "Listen. You could
stay." Winced harder. "I could use
stopped, took the shades off again, his sign that this
was important. "As much as I'd like to take you
up on that offer, I like cock a bit too much - and you
like cock not halfway enough. It would be a one-sided
business on too many levels."
felt visibly stupid. He should let it go, really. "You
said you like my type, and I'm just drunk enough. Don't
think you'd rape me or anything."
smiled as he pushed the shades back over his eyes. "Mates,
alright? Let's keep it to that and we'll get along just
fine." Added, while opening the door, "on
that he left.
if the legionnaire went to the CO? Vadim covered his
eyes with his arm and groaned. Fuck. This was not the
Soviet Army. He was not an officer who could do what
days they could prove every little shit. There were
genetic traces, and somebody had clearly fucked up the
other's elbow. Assault. Whatever they called it. Definitely
a crime, even without the sexual part of it. Attempted
rape? 'We found your genetic code splattered all over
this soldier's trousers. Any explanation for that?'
you so fucking keen to go back to prison? Are you? This
time with the showers and improvised weapons?
a predator, vile, depraved and utterly incapable of
guilt. I wish I had the time to teach you the meaning
wanted Jean, he couldn't have him, he'd just taken him.
Not like he had fucked his ass. Not a proper rape. Had
even given head. Yeah, for the power, not for any kind
of equality. Just being able to want, just desiring
again. Like drugs. Heady. Like suddenly realising how
hungry he had been.
fucking Dan in Kabul. He had just gone back into something
that had screwed up Dan, and this time, it had been
a superior, technically, and the only ally he had had
in this place. And fucking Jean ran straight to Dan.
Had switched sides, easily, with no visible hesitation.
From Vadim's ally to Mad Dog's in a heartbeat.
Dog. It hurt to see him, hurt to know he'd be shouted
at, again, have that snarling beast at his throat that
wanted nothing more than to rip out his heart. It was
agony. Vadim hadn't thought it could actually hurt that
bad, had been sure he couldn't feel anything, but he
had been wrong. There was fear, and anger, and he thought
they felt as potent as they had always been. The fear
was certainly stronger, these days.
knowing what Dan's face had looked like in Kabul, the
night they'd spent in the hotel room. What he'd said.
My light, my life, my sanity, my love. Nothing of that
had been wrong. Not the sex, the kisses, the teenager
oaths of staying together, always, rain, shine, life,
death. I'd die for you. Live for me. Hold me.
Fucking hold me.
pressed his head against the bunk bed, tried to choke
the sound, a pitiful strangled thing from deep in his
chest that sounded like somebody had cut his throat,
and cried, cried so hard he thought he could never stop.
slept undisturbed and deeper than he had done for weeks.
After his first piss at stupid-o-clock he'd left the
door of his 'tin hut' open to get a breeze in, pulling
the camo-net in front of it, which he used as a makeshift
curtain. It would get as hot as a cooking pot in these
small metal rooms, once the sun was up. The only way
to get any air flow going was to wedge the door open,
keep the minuscule window wide open as well, and sod
all pretence of modesty. At least their accommodation
as 'affiliated' personnel was a distance away from the
British troops, with the added luxury of a few square
yards that each merc could call their own.
slept through the racket the guys who were on early
morning duty were making, and when he finally woke up,
it was baking in the hut, but he didn't particularly
care. Extreme temperatures had never bothered him and
he'd got so used to the heat, he moved in it like a
lizard. Gagging for a coffee, his stomach rumbling from
lack of food, he had to get washed and shaved before
he could present himself anywhere, let alone the cookhouse.
yawned, rubbed his eyes and ran a hand through his tousled
bed-hair, feeling better right now than he had done
for a while. A little over a week to be precise. Finding
his shades first of all, he put them on before scrambling
up from bunk and blankets. Searching for flip-flops,
towel and wash bag, he wrapped the pale blue towel low
around his hips, with the scars peeking over the top,
then dangled the olive soap bag from one finger. Filled
with shower gel, tooth brush and paste, razor and shaving
foam. What else could a man need? Had lived his life
with those five items, perhaps a tube of lube added
on top, the latter not strictly counting as 'beauty
the camo-net, he stepped through the door, blinking
into the glaring sun despite the shades. July was scorching
in this place, as early as 1000 hrs. Dan braced his
legs and took a deep breath. "Ah, nothing but a
dose of flaming sand and dust in the morning."
Muttering to himself with a grin, mocking the classic
a short space away, Jean was standing in a gaggle of
freshly-showered mercs, wearing PT shorts, trainers
and a white wifebeater. He had just finished telling
a vastly exaggerated, and enormously untrue story of
how he had fucked up his elbow - which included being
taken prisoner by a temple of nymphomaniac ninja ladies
whom he fended off after he had satisfied their unquenchable
lust for his fat cock - and talked his way into a cigarette.
It was lit by one of the guys and put between his lips,
because Jean was already holding a Styrofoam cup of
coffee with his good hand. With a close-lipped grin
he gave his goodbyes, as he had just spotted Dan coming
their direction. He headed towards the ovens, crossing
grinned, about ninety-five percent awake, allowing himself
the luxury of holding the measly rest back. Meeting
the legionnaire in the middle of the open space, his
right hand moved before he opened his mouth to get out
a greeting, snatched the Styrofoam cup and unceremoniously
gulped down half of the coffee, smirking. "Cheers,
mate. Just what I needed."
took the cig from his lips. "Want this too?"
just saved my life, mate." Dan didn't take the
fag, just leaned forward and took a deep drag from the
offered cig. Exhaling while talking. "Had run out,
was about to get a packet after brekkie."
glanced over his shoulder, grinning, as a few people
seemed to expect anger or some other emotion. "You
off duty today?" He grinned, secure despite the
weird question. "Or just late?"
Dan handed the remaining half of the coffee back. Fair
was fair. "Am on after lunch, it's the evening
shift. You think I would have had the booze last night
otherwise?" He grinned, "no chance, I'm a
Mad Dog is more eager for blood than booze, yadda, yadda."
Jean took a drag, flicked the cig away, one hand short
to take the coffee back, then emptied the cup. Glancing
down at Dan's body, mostly bared, just a movement of
his pupils, nothing more, almost invisible. "Advertising
your wares, huh?"
laughed, hitching the towel back up that had threatened
to slip even further down, revealing more of the serrated
scars and far more of the dark line of hair than he
had intended. "Aye, arsehole, as if anyone were
interested in them. More scars than a whorehouse boasts
them at discount to the CO? He's just a bit tight with
the pennies since he had to pay for his momma's abortion."
A poisonous grin. "To prevent another mistake,
sniggered evilly, "So, how was the wanking?"
He gestured with his chin at the non functional arm.
"Or should I feel pity for you?"
grinned. "Bastard." Making the international
'wanker' gesture with his left hand, which drew some
shouts from his usual crew. Jean, fucked up, still dared
to call Mad Dog a 'wanker'. Fun.
was still laughing, shook his head and dropped his hand
for a quick grope of Jean's gonads. Squeezed hard and
sudden, let go immediately. "Yep, I can feel it,
still full. Poor boy."
laughed, shit like that was perfectly normal, like ass-slapping,
not worse than a one-finger salute. "Yeah, you
would know all about blue balls."
tapped the side of his nose with his index finger, lowered
his voice and winked. "Not as blue as you'd think."
turned, and saw a pair of eyes so cold it made the desert
suddenly feel temperate.
arms crossed, kitted out, waiting for pick-up not too
far away. Must have been standing in the shade, moving
forward. Jean could have sworn he hadn't been there
just a minute ago.
glanced back at Dan. "Watch your back out there",
eyes followed Jean's glance, hitting the ice cold glare
with a full-on stare of his own. For just a second.
Like he had done, eleven years ago, in a sweltering
hotel room in Kabul. "Trust me, I am the goddamned
king of back-watching." Added, "I won't die
felt his body tense with Krasnorada staring at him like
that, like he was incapable of anything but that intense
stare that Jean had mistaken for anything but what it
meant. Murderous intent. The bandage itched, and he
hardly managed to keep up the easy grin. Didn't want
to stop the talk even though he had intended to, wouldn't
allow Krasnorada the comfort of thinking he had interfered
with him talking to Dan. "If you want a piece of
me, Mad Dog, you'll have to battle your way through
nymphomaniac ninja ladies like you wouldn't believe.
They'd show you what you're missing."
I have a fair idea. Just copped a feel, remember?"
Dan grinned, refused to acknowledge the glowering presence.
He didn't belong with the other anymore. Fucking bastard,
how dared he. How dared he stand there and behave as
if he gave the slightest shit about Dan.
if I didn't know you'd kick my teeth in for that, legionnaire,
I'd cop another."
looked straight into Dan's eyes, his lips spreading
into a slow, sly smile. "Aren't you just itching
for it", he said, loudly, then shot Dan another
glance, quick, hard to read, gave a laugh, and was on
his way, back to his quarters.
was shaking his head, laughing. "In your dreams,
turned while he was walking, murmured "bring booze"
in Russian, laughed again, and left. Delivering a nice
blow to Krasnorada, which was the cause for the last
silenced Dan for a moment. Had he just been propositioned
by a straight guy? Holy shit, there seemed to be room
for more firsts in his fucked-up life. He said nothing,
turned away as well to continue towards the showers,
refusing to cast another glance at Vadim whose presence
he felt even if he didn't see it.
started to whistle, badly, and grinned while he walked.
A high-pitched squeal greeting him from the running
showers. "Behave, girls, there's Mad Dog and his
sneered, pulled the towel off his hips and chucked it
over the hook. "Look who's there." Didn't
even need to glance over at the opposite stalls, knew
that taunting voice. "St Trinian's, but without
had no idea who else was in the stalls along his side.
The fronts were open, but individual stalls had thin
voice piped up again, less high-pitched, instead mock
pitiful this time. "Does that make you sad? Not
to have a skirt?"
rolled his eyes, squeezed some gel into his hand before
stepping under the shower, his head still out of the
water. "You're just jealous, Midge. Itching for
a nice juicy cock up your arse, but I'm not doing you
laughter that came out from the stalls was half nasty,
half genuine. "Why's that, then? Found yourself
a cunt amongst the jarheads, or is the Russian bitch
back in your favours?"
closed his eyes, dunked his head under the water for
a moment, lathered shower gel into his dishevelled hair
and counted to ten. He'd give the bastard ten seconds
grace this time. Arrogant twat - and far too close for
comfort. He poked his head back out of the water. "Midge,
you stupid wanker, last time you and your mates tried
this game with me there was blood spilt all over the
tiles. And fuck you, but it wasn't mine. Want a repeat?"
answer for a second, before water stopped along the
stalls, a guy stepping out into the walkway between.
The ginger freckled merc was smirking, but holding his
hands up, as if showing he had no weapons. Stark naked
that would have been a challenge.
down, Mad Dog, gotta take the piss."
was watching the git while sluicing the soap suds off
his body. Midge was trouble. He'd have to beat the crap
out of him again.
only for five minutes, Monsieur."
pay your fees, remember?"
dry huff and the doctor left the line. Finally. Little
respect for somebody calling from abroad, and even less
for somebody who spoke very basic French. Jean had the
feeling the doctor had taken an instant dislike for
him. As if he pressured Solange into anything. Or maybe
because Solange wasn't strictly white. Hard to tell.
She sounded drowsy.
just tired right now. Are you alright?"
leave camp for a while, got my elbow twisted in an exercise."
He leaned against the wall, would have loved to drink
her voice, the low huskiness pronounced by whatever
they gave her after the operation. Rub against it, hold
her, he should fucking be there, and wasn't, instead
nursing his elbow, not even the luxury of getting head
over heels in work.
it hurt bad?"
I had worse." He closed his eyes to concentrate
on her, the slightest inflection, how she breathed,
that she breathed. He missed her so much. "Did
you get the dog yet?"
think I want a cat."
huffed. If she could have made up her mind, they'd be
the proud owners of a horse, a falcon, a pair of parrots
and an albino python. "Sure. Whatever makes you
happy." And doesn't require us to move too far
away from an airport.
sweet. I miss you, baby. But I must be so ugly right
up, just herself, in that fragile beauty she hid under
the stunning feathers she could don. Granted, it took
four hours in the bathroom, but it was worth it every
time. As long as she was his for the remaining twenty
hours. As often as he wanted her. And that was an awful
lot. "Only if you cry, remember."
look at me. I'm ugly.
at her hair like she tried to pull the scalp off. This
is not me, this is not me, oh Jean, how can you love
me, how can you want this ugly sack of bones.
be pretty for you."
breaking my heart. "You better be", he grinned.
"If you're not properly healed, woman, I'll slap
gave a sigh. "Oh please." That made him horny
beyond belief, that soft sigh, knowing how she flushed
when he did those things to her, treated her like his
possession. Something other girls would run away screaming
from, but it only made her cling more, hold so tight
like she would drown without him, and he remembered
the nights when he had held that lanky body, bony shoulder
trembling with tears. This is not me. How can you
see me? That intense hatred for a body that was
evolving, changing, mood swings. They had warned him,
but it was still a hell of a ride, and her fucking family
refused to see that their son wasn't dead.
up, angel, I'll call you tomorrow."
I do, too."
blow kisses or anything, this wasn't exactly private,
so that was the most he could do without fucking up
his reputation as a tough bastard with a stunner for
a girl. Putting the phone down because he didn't want
to hear anything from the doctor, nothing like "successful
operation" or "everything's on schedule"
like her gender reassignment - like she got fucking
posted to a different battalion - was nothing but a
drew a deep breath, gave a grin to Pascal, one of his
crew, who had waited for him on the way to the mess.
it a boy, Jean?"
laughed. You have no fucking idea. "The appendix?"
Hit the back of Pascal's head. "Fucking weirdo.
Now you made me think about guts. Bastard."
it a boy? No more. Never really. Bastard.
on to grab food, felt strangely elated, just having
heard her voice. Knew all her girl friends would queue
up and entertain her with who was sleeping with whom,
who had found that gorgeous little boutique first, and
weren't citrine necklaces all the rage this summer?
It made her happy. And he didn't care what the necklace
had cost that he peeled off her on the way to the bed.
this mood, nothing really touched him, not even the
Russian thundercloud in the corner. Krasnorada looked
less punched-up today, or healing faster. Jean sat down,
had a chat with the blokes, spoke about Solange's appendix
operation in as much detail as might be expected, drawing
from his own a while back, hard, hot stomach, blue lights,
emergency procedure, but she was fine now. It explained
why he had been worried. A nose or boob job wouldn't
have been convincing. Declined a few invitations to
a game of pool, said he'd not give Pascal a view of
his ass, bent over a table. Got roaring laughter, felt
on top of the game, and called it an early night. So
the weird mix of offer-request from the legionnaire,
Dan pulled in favours, offering some in return. He got
lucky. Gary, the bloke with the stupidest yank name
any ex-Seal could have, wanted to swap his shift desperately,
a shift that was particularly disliked. Friday night,
when everyone was already knackered and the Muslim world
had gone quiet, but they still had to be on alert.
took the chance, would have to do a double shift, but
nothing he hadn't done before, and couldn't handle.
He even managed to blag some booze out of the guy. It
helped to have mates who had mates who knew mates who
and he ended not only with a free half day ahead,
but also with a litre bottle of Jack Daniel's. Those
yanks could be good for something, sometime. Just like
the kid, who he was oddly missing, the carefree laughter,
the toothpaste-ad white grin and the unblemished body
that should be playing basketball in an America suburb
and not risk life and limbs in the heat of the Gulf.
done his shift, stuffed his face at tea, studiously
avoiding the glowering, brooding presence in one of
the corners, and was heading towards Jean's room as
soon as he was ready. Back in flip-flops, shorts and
t-shirt, Dan's 'uniform' when off duty. Didn't bother
to knock this time, just called out, once he had reached
the door. "Oy, princess, need rescuing?"
was just scratching under the bandage with a pencil,
manoeuvring the blunt point around on the itching skin,
sweat and bandages were an especially devious torture.
"Yeah, come in."
up from the crate, turned the French world news down,
stuff was happening, as always. He was wearing shorts,
and the bandage. Had placed a wet towel around his shoulders
and head, which cooled, pulled it off his head, though,
wiping his face with one part of it. He looked up as
Dan entered. "'Princess'? Who's the faggot?"
grinned, kicked the door shut behind him. "I already
told the CO that I wasn't a fairy with a magic wand."
Putting the litre bottle of bourbon down on the table
with a thud. "Funny, he didn't believe me."
wand?" Jean huffed. "You're not talking about
that cock of yours, are you?"
smirked at the comment, while getting a good long eyeful
of Jean's scarcely clad body from behind his shades.
Holding a couple of tin mugs in his other hand, he placed
them down beside the bottle. "You have to thank
the yanks for tonight's treat," adding while pushing
the shades up onto his forehead, "and my considerable
charms." Grinning toothily.
God or Allah for the yanks, then, and their black market,
corruption and willingness to fall to your many charms."
Jean bowed mockingly. "Procurer of whiskey, charmer
of Yanks. Wielder of the magic wand."
laughed, waved his finger about then poked it into Jean's
chest when the man came back up. "Poof, I'm a fairy."
smirked. "Nope, didn't work. No change."
the bottle, Dan glanced at the Russian Frenchie. "One
thing, though, if you don't want to piss me off then
don't call this shit here whisky. I'm Scottish, this
is bourbon, never whisky. Don't insult my heritage with
this firewater." He grinned, "or I'd have
to call you Belgian sprout."
No whisky. Cool. I'll explain the difference between
a proper wine and Californian grape juice if I can be
arsed." Jean laughed, shaking his head. "Have
a Scotsman explain food to me. Ah, France weeps over
fried Mars bars."
waved at the legionnaire. "See who's talking. Borscht
and chow. You're Frenchman by choice but you were still
brought up on blinis and vodka." He grinned, leaned
over the table and poured the black market booze into
the mugs. "How's your lady?" Looking up from
under his lashes. "Been thinking about you and
her. You said she'd be sorted in a couple weeks, I assume
she's been under the knife or is going to? She alright?"
came out of surgery, had her on the phone a couple hours
ago. She's doing fine." Jean gave a smile. "The
others think it was the appendix. Well, close enough,
I thought." He paused for a moment, then inhaled
deeply. "She'll be fine. She's a tough one, deep
down. Can't wait to fly back to Paris, though."
Pressed his lips together. "Well. Another two months.
Gives her time to get used to things."
months can be a fucking long time." Dan handed
one of the mugs over, filled to the brim. "Then
again, we went many times with up to nine months in
between encounters and there wasn't even a way of communication.
Let alone knowing if the other was still alive. It worked."
He shrugged, then smiled, tapped his mug to Jean's.
grinned, spilled a little whisky, laughed while staring
at his left hand. "I'm so surgeon material."
Hand shaking just enough to be noticeable.
propose a toast, then. To your lady's speedy recovery,
to time flying fast, and to miraculously resolved paperwork
and that I get to be the Best Man for once in my fucking
sounds like an excellent plan. Slainte." Jean took
a big mouthful of the bourbon, closing his eyes to deal
with the onslaught of heat.
took a gulp of the burning stuff, shuddered, and added
while grinning, "and before you say anything, I'll
attend without a scrap of camo. I promise."
laughed, clinked the mug against Dan's once more. "But
fully dressed. Those scars can curdle milk, you know."
know." Dan grinned and shrugged, "but I don't
give a shit."
briefly lowered the hand with the mug and touched it
to Dan's abs, meeting his eyes as he did. "She'd
get jealous if she knew you squeezed my balls."
but mine was a buddy-squeeze and those don't count.
Hers would be a fuck-me one. And hell, I know the difference."
Dan looked squarely into the blue eyes, before closing
his own and tipping another mouthful back.
answered the glance, then chuckled, turning away to
put the mug down. "I guess. Not sure everybody
can tell the difference. You see, Mad Dog goes pretty
rarely buddy on somebody's balls." He sat down,
invited Dan to sit on that crate, while he went onto
the bed, pulling his legs up.
made himself comfortable, could do with taking the weight
off his knee anyway, cradled the mug in his hand. He
grinned, but said nothing. Seemed the legionnaire had
him pegged quite well on that one.
help but wonder. You present an interesting challenge.
Keeps that grey mush awake." Jean tapped his temple.
"You're cut from some different stuff. You stand
What's that supposed to mean?" Dan shook his head,
chuckling. "I stand out in this fucked up place
because I walked around announcing to everyone who didn't
want to hear that I was gay. That's all. That, and the
jobs I did or do, but even those aren't not special.
There are folks out there now, twenty years younger
than I am, who'd piss themselves with arrogant laughter
at the granddad who forces his knackered body to pull
stunts they'd do without even losing breath." He
shrugged, fished for his fags and offered Jean the packet
before taking one for himself.
shook his head. "I wouldn't call myself that, granddad."
He gave Dan a long look, almost a warning. "I hated
the bitches. Still do. Krasnorada is that, you're not."
shook his head. "Not that kind of granddad, but
the one with pipe and slippers." His grin faltered
slightly. Fought every time with himself, whenever Vadim
was mentioned, no matter when.
pulled a cigarette free, then groaned, lifting his injured
arm. "What great timing to start smoking again.
Light." He leaned over to hand Dan the cigarette,
who took it, placed it between his lips and lit the
fag before handing it back while Jean continued. "No,
can't put my finger on it. But it's odd I invited you,
and even weirder that I invited you again. My guts tell
me you're fine. Couldn't name five guys that my guts
have the same opinion about, here in camp."
mate, can't tell you why you fell haplessly for my charms,
but seems you did." Dan grinned light heartedly.
Pulled a cigarette out of the packet for himself, lighting
it. "I could tell you something you probably wouldn't
believe, though." Exhaling smoke while pushing
the packet back into his shorts pockets. "I used
to be an anti-social bastard with no friends."
He poured some more of the bourbon down his throat,
shuddered when it went all the way down in a fiery trail.
smoked with his left hand, didn't seem to be able to
make his mind up how to hold the cigarette. "And
then you went into therapy and had your head screwed
quite." Dan shrugged. "More like 'and then
I screwed a Russian who taught me all about human interaction'."
He bared his teeth in a feral grin. "Told you it
glanced towards the door, as if he could see Krasnorada
that way, even if he wasn't' there. "Not that
Russian." He blinked, then stubbed the cigarette
out. "That guy is as suitable for human interaction
as a T-34 for heart surgery."
shrugged, inhaled the smoke. "You only know his
worst side: the bastard. Am not saying that he isn't
an unhinged fucktard with a tendency to mass murder,
but he's not all that." Exhaled, huffed dryly.
"Bullshit. That sounds like a shit romance novel
that wifeys read. Corrected. He didn't used to be such
an arsehole. Don't know what the fuck happened to him
in prison, and don't actually want to know. Not anymore."
Again that shrug, casual pretence. "All I say is,
he saved my life several times over, not just physically,
and every time he told me he loved me, I actually fucking
believed him. Had no reason not to." Dan stared
at the smoke escaping.
lit up in Jean's eyes at the word 'prison', like a piece
of the puzzle that suddenly completed part of a pattern,
and he nodded.
well, fuck that," Dan tore himself out of reminiscing.
"It's in the past. Let's talk about friends and
mates and what's the hell's the difference."
legionnaire smiled. "Friends. Now, that's different
from buddies. In my book, buddies are guys you don't
want to kill and share a cigarette with. Friends ...
They are like best men and you go wind surfing with
them in Australia and don't talk about ambushes and
killing all the time."
slowly exhaled the smoke, watching it escape towards
the window. "I haven't got any friends in that
case. Never had. No time, no opportunities, and no chance
to establish anything before they most likely died.
Mates, aye, friends, no. Squaddies don't have the luxury
got up, went to the radio and turned the volume up a
little. He stood behind Dan, resting a hand on his shoulder,
close enough to lean against. "I might teach you
wind surfing. Terrific for the abs and shoulders."
felt the sudden increase of heat in his back, that touch
again, casual, but not so casual after all. Something
comfortable about it, and this comfort reached somewhere
inside that none of the fun and sex with Matt had ever
touched. The temptation to just lean back into that
body was suddenly overwhelming, but he resisted.
awfully close." The cigarette, neglected between
his fingers, was burning down to the filter.
Sorry." Jean didn't move, hand went to Dan's neck,
awkward touch of a man using the wrong hand. "And
there's paragliding, too. I'll finish my piloting licence
when I go home."
sounds like fun." Dan dropped the stub to the floor
before the dying glow reached his fingers. He didn't
move away from the touch, even though he figured he
probably should. Fuck it, live recklessly. He grinned
to himself at that notion. "I always used to prefer
running and climbing, but the knees are knackered, had
surgery on the right one." Keeping up the conversation
while rolling his neck like a man who tried to get rid
of some tension. "Not particularly team spirited
knew a guy once who went paragliding with a broken foot.
Take off and start were bitches, but they still hauled
him up. Did that in Peru and lived to brag about it."
Jean's palm went into Dan's right trapezoid muscle,
firm pressure, rolling against the muscle to relax it.
"I'd think your leg won't be much of a problem.
It's all about balance, anyway."
balance and landing safely." Dan rolled his neck
again, leaning into the hand for a moment. "Quite
fancied those gliders, but have never had time. Work
hard - play hard. Yeah, fuck that. Where's the play?"
don't expect the play coming and looking for you."
Jean's fingers relaxed again, splayed on Dan's shoulder.
"Can't do anything about that neck. Not with a
alright." Dan craned his neck to glance up, grinning
crookedly. "I'll just have a wank later. Usually
sends me to sleep."
paused, met that glance, hand moving up the side of
Dan's neck, patting it. "Won't help your neck,
than nothing." Dan craned his head to the other
side, gave more access to the hand, inviting further
patting as he grinned.
let the hand lie there, relaxed, comfortable. "That's
what you get from carrying the whole kit plus armour."
I just know it." Dan sighed, finished the rest
of his bourbon. "I've been in this game for, what,
about ten years longer than you? You pup." He grinned,
gazed into his empty mug, felt the alcohol swirling
inside his body like a warm, glowing buzz.
huffed. "Yeah. Always wondered what war in the
stone age was like."
rolled his eyes. "You're how old? Thirty?"
were still in your nappies while I was already holding
a rifle." Dan grinned. "Must have carried
my own bodyweight hundreds of times over throughout
my Army career. Didn't expect I'd be back in the treadmill
after the cushy security job... Guess I'm just a war
you get fired?"
from my Army job? No. I told you, I left because I wanted
to get back to Kabul. From the security one? Neither.
In fact, I'm still working for her. Kind of." Glancing
backwards with a shrug. "I'm not exactly a bog-standard
so you're part of a secret government project."
Jean's voice was playfully ominous. "As long as
you don't have to shoot me now because I know too much
..." His hand went between Dan's shoulder blades
and his body shifted, until he sat behind the other,
legs open, left and right of the crate, chest almost
touching Dan's back. The hand went back to resting on
one shoulder. "I thought bodyguard was what everybody
wants to be."
tensed, the closeness was unexpected, but he felt himself
relax against the near-touch fairly quickly. Paused
for a moment, before he chuckled quietly. "Seems
you're doing the body-guarding right now, mate."
about it, didn't do it, despite the free sex from bored
film stars. All I'm doing here is work on my tan."
couldn't see Dan's grin at the misunderstanding, strangely
relieved that the meaning had passed by the other. He
shouldn't feel as if the close contact was anything
other than some weird-assed buddy-stuff, but the vibes
he got off the other? Entirely above and beyond the
line of buddy-duty. He really shouldn't get into wishful
tan and earning shitloads of money to keep your lady
happy, eh?" Dan shifted, moved slightly away from
the close contact, leaning forward to reach for the
bottle of bourbon.
grinned. No, it didn't, he was filling his own accounts
back up after depletion, and cushioning them just nicely.
"Want another shot?" He glanced backwards,
but kept to the slightly extended distance.
mug's over there. Not that I can reach it from here."
Dan grabbed the second mug as well, started to fill
it. "Or are you already sweating too much like
a pig?" He smirked, handing the mug to Jean. "You
Slavic lightweights, and you already hardly wear anything
at all." Dan winced. Great. You had to point out
that you had noticed, right? Of course you had. You
sweating anyway. Dressed, undressed, sober, drunk."
Jean let the hand slide down over Dan's back, following
the spine. A back that was bone dry despite the t-shirt.
The man seemed to be heat-resistant. "Hope you're
not offended by my lack of full camo gear plus armour
plates and helmet. I dressed down for the occasion.
Although my lady loves the camo thing. Boots and camo
trousers. That gets her going."
was filling his own mug, spilled a little when the hand
was wandering again. "Aye, the uniform kink. I
remember that one. Always pulled when I let it be known
I was a soldier and Special Forces on top of that. Don't
know if the girls believed me, but I never gave a fuck,
as long as I got to fuck." He chuckled, took a
big swig from his refilled mug, then drew in a deep
breath, twisting his neck to turn round and look at
down for which occasion?"
was looking at him over the rim of the mug as he drunk,
took a thirsty swallow, the kind that got people drunk
fast. Made a noncommittal gesture with his hand that
said 'You know which occasion'.
you trying to seduce me?" Dan barged straight ahead,
figured he wouldn't earn himself a punch. Hoped so anyway.
put the mug down, crossed his arms in front of his chest,
closed his legs enough to support his weight on the
crate with his thighs, and let his upper body fall back
enough to make all muscles tense in his body, showing
off abs and chest, and holding the position like a strange
sit-up. "Why? Having any success? Or rather, effect?"
brows crept to the hairline, unruly as it was. Studying
the body on display with a smirk. "Want me to get
my cock out as proof? Or will a snorted 'Duh!' do? Yours
is a good body. Bound to have an effect, mate."
smirked, flattered. "Me being your type and all.
Don't forget that."
put the mug to his lips and drained the entire contents
in three, four gulps. Holy shit, that stuff would be
killing him, but he needed the boozy crutch.
see," Dan wiped his lips, twisted round further.
"There's a big difference between your lady and
me." He poked his finger hard into Jean's ropey
abs. "She's a woman. I'm a bloke. She's got a cunt.
I got a cock." He poked again, grinning, "you
are aware of that fundamental difference, aren't you?"
frankly, she will have the right set of bits when she
gets out of the hospital. And yes, I've seen you shower.
Several times. You got the complete set, as far as I
can tell." Jean came back up, placed the good hand
on the crate to lean forward, even closer into Dan's
" Dan drew out the vowel, stayed exactly
where he was and waited a moment, figuring out what
he felt about the even closer proximity. Comfortably
boozed up and mellow, check. Even more comfortably aroused
and ambivalent if he'd want to bother doing anything
about that, check. Bloody comfortable in this almost-touching
closeness with the other man? Double check. He grinned.
"Right, mate. Since that's clear I got to ask the
question again. You trying to seduce me? Coz if you
were, I'd tell you I'd be a fucking idiot if I wasn't
game, but I'm not an idiot. So, there, even though I
don't get it."
was kind of expecting you to do the seducing",
murmured Jean, "but seems you brought the booze,
so I have to provide the entertainment." He took
smiled, more to himself than to the other. "I don't
do that sort of shit to a mate. A straight mate."
He moved a fraction backwards, to where he had sat before.
Enough to touch the other's chest with his back. Sweaty
skin and dry t-shirt. Nice. Would be nicer if that shirt
weren't in between.
good hand came to rest on Dan's thigh, the elbow between
them, which prevented more contact, but Jean moved in
to bridge some of the remaining gap, making contact
with his thighs, groin, up to the navel. "I wasn't
that drunk last time."
last time? Last time you had a bloke?" Dan smirked,
didn't move away from the touches. Really wasn't that
stupid. If this was going to be a freebie, he'd take
it. For now he remained fairly passive, just sitting
in that unexpected embrace.
dug his fingers into Dan's thigh in protest. "Last
time we met here, and I said you could stay."
that one." Dan grinned. "I chalked it up to
delusions. But just so you know," he chuckled low,
"I'm OK with being a substitute, already am for
someone else. But just so we're clear," he raised
one brow in a crooked grin, "and just in case I
am reading that peacock-feather preening of yours right,
I'm not a charity, legionnaire. I don't dish out charitable
acts of human cocksucking kindness without expecting
anything in return."
but you did say the magic word, just now." Jean
grinned, a suggestive, dirty grin. "I'm curious."
He moved his lips to Dan's ear. "It doesn't feel
too bad touching you, Mad Dog. I get the feeling we
can be friends. And what's a little touching between
shook his head a little, enough to make his hair and
skin press against the other's lips in the movement.
"It doesn't usually work like this, but if that's
what you are - curious - then I'll indulge your curiosity."
indulge me", Jean murmured into Dan's ear again,
hardly more than a breath, not moving away from the
touch, instead opening his lips slightly.
really are a weird guy." Dan chuckled low, lowered
his head, just so he could move his neck against the
other's face, dark hair tickling.
came back up, glanced backwards, the motion making his
already stubble-shadowed cheek move along Jean's lips.
The tightening of the fingers on Dan's thigh indicated
that the legionnaire didn't object to the touches or
where it was going.
do you want, Frenchie? I wasn't trying to seduce you,
but ..." Dan laughed, the sudden reference to an
old film he remembered from his early Army days too
fucking ironic to resist, "do you want me
to seduce you?"
laughed. "Now, that would be extra special nice.
Preferential treatment for mates?" His hand moved
up Dan's thigh, rested where it met the torso, fingers
on the inside, thumb on the top.
quite." Dan shifted on the crate, trapped. "Special
treatment, full stop. Have never seduced a bloke."
He twisted once more, but couldn't get anywhere. "Neither
is it going to happen with you while I sit like this."
grinned, hand moved forward to give Dan's cock a squeeze.
tease." Dan muttered while Jean stood, moving backwards,
turned and went to padlock the door. "No use getting
interrupted playing chess."
was pouring himself another measure of booze, then had
a few more mouthfuls. "Good thinking, but if you
don't change that awful radio shit to something more
palatable, I'm not sure if I'm going to feel frisky."
He grinned, glancing at Jean who rested his hand against
the warm metal of the door for a moment, then shook
his head. "Change it. I think I'm getting some
British station, too." Jean checked the lock again,
knowing he was drunk enough to make obvious mistakes.
"Right, then. Back to the seduction bit."
He turned and came back, standing close, but not making
guess that involves the shedding of clothes." Dan
put the mug onto the table, changed the radio station,
glad to find BBC World and some decent music. Pulled
the t-shirt unceremoniously over his head and dropped
it onto the crate. "There's something about skin,
you know." He trailed down Jean's sweaty chest,
strong and calloused fingers finding their path across
smooth, damp planes of muscles. "Something fucking
inhaled, stomach muscles tensing, powerless right hand
twitching, and closed his eyes, focusing on the touch,
warmth against warmth. Good hand touching Dan's chest,
fingers splayed, then stroked down Dan's side. He grinned
with closed eyes. "Some straight part of me is
just freaking about how fucking strong you must be."
Opened his eyes to only catch a glimpse.
chuckled, "That's exactly what I like. The equality.
Can't break a bloke who's as strong as yourself."
Leaning forward, Dan replaced his hand with lips and
tongue, lapping up sweat, leaving a trail of teeth and
tickling stubble, right to the pec, where he lingered
at the nipple. His lips moving over the bud of flesh
while murmuring. "So irresistible in fact, I intend
to taste all of it."
" Jean bared his teeth in an attempt to hide
how much he liked that, tried to stay cool. "
was what I had in mind." His hand came up to touch
Dan's head, fingers running through the hair. He smiled.
"Never seduced a bloke? Everything I know about
gays is just jumping out the window."
needed to." Teeth and tongue working on that nipple,
sucking in the flesh in a surprise motion, before returning
to more gentle laving. "With a bloke
moving across the chest to give the other nipple equal
attention. Jean might not be like Vadim, might be less
sensitive, but Dan didn't give a shit. Enjoyed himself
guess it's 'hey, mate'
" Dan's hand slipped
into the waistband of Jean's shorts, squeezing the muscled
arse, which made Jean tense on instinct, drawing a deep
and then wanking, sucking or fucking
without further ado."
wasting any time
" Jean opened his eyes again,
swallowed hard. "Less complicated, huh?"
" Dan was working his way
up to the throat and neck, leaving lapping, biting,
friction and damp smoothness in its wake, taking his
time. This was a proper seduction, after all. "I
remember shagging girls
" pouring attention
onto the neck and the line right underneath the jaw,
making Jean shiver and lean in, baring his throat. Offering
his neck, pulse hammering under the skin. "
to be a pain to get
" Dan bit with just the
perfect mix of pain and pleasure into the neck muscle,
close to the ear, getting Jean to tense and groan "
what I wanted."
a touch dizzy from the sensations, Jean stared at Dan's
chest, not only the absence of breasts, but the strength
of it, hesitating. "Not a charity. Yes, remember.
Got you." He ran the fingers of his good hand across
the beginning of scars over the belt buckle, around
the curve of waist, to the small of Dan's back. Closed
his eyes again as his hand moved to Dan's ass, contour
of it under the fabric.
stepped closer, pressing his groin into the other man's.
Unmistakable hardness, as if he wanted to make a statement.
He was a man, would remain a man, fucking loved being
a man, and he left no doubt about it.
pressed in as well, hardness against hardness, didn't
quite know what to do, cursing his fucked arm under
his breath. Seemed he was lost without a routine, torn
between letting things happen and regaining the initiative.
sure I can give head or anything", Jean murmured.
"But I won't leave you hanging." He laughed.
expect you to." Dan pushed Jean's shorts down,
grinning at the erection that sprang into his hand.
"Will be happy with a hand-job." A twist of
his hips and a harder grinding of his own cock into
I can do that." Jean's eyes were
firmly closed. Keeping the light out, a way to concentrate
on what he was feeling and less concerned with the gender.
"Fuck. You are fucking strong." He ran his
hand to Dan's neck, pressed him closer, wanted to touch
more but didn't have the hands to do it. "Figured
But I don't
it's I who is the cocksucker." Dan lifted his head
from Jean's neck, winked, before starting to go to his
knees. He pulled the shorts down, far enough to give
access and push the other's legs apart.
blinked, eyes followed Dan, his body tensing in anticipation,
want, need. Looked like he didn't quite understand what
was going on, a strange sense of Whatthefuck, which
still didn't change anything about the desire. "You're
?" Going to do this, was what he wanted
to say, but it was only a strangled moan that came out.
" Dan drew out the sound. Looking up, he
grinned. On his knees and not giving a shit about it.
The epitome of self assurance.
his tongue to tease and taunt, eliciting responses with
teeth and lips, sucking hard all of a sudden before
letting go, just tasting precum with the tip of his
tongue. "Nice cock. Uncut, makes a change."
Dan chuckled, using the vibrations of his subdued laughter
as yet another stimulation. Nice cock, indeed, and bigger
than any of the ones 'involved' with him. He got into
his task, using every skill and want and the overpowering
greed for a cock and its taste. Drawing lust from the
other man's body with hands, fingers that pressed hard
against the dam, lips, teeth, tongue, suction, and the
sheer strength of a fucking powerful body.
kept his eyes closed, breathing ragged, had placed his
hand on Dan's shoulder, just to steady himself against
the whirl of feelings, sensations, the greed, thirst,
hunger, enthusiasm for cock. The pressure between his
legs, behind the balls went deep. A pressure that was
altogether good in a strange way, deeper inside his
body than where he usually felt lust, and he was helpless.
Never knew what to expect, just reacted to what Dan
gave him, a hot, wet mouth, lips that had strength,
could feel the raw strength of Dan's neck as he moved,
and shuddered, tensed, relaxed, tensed harder, getting
closer, not random, just as the other let him. "Need
to get loud
Breathing, just barely, at another excruciating twist
of lust. If that went on, he'd seriously be loud. Didn't
want it to stop, fuck no, but this was a bad place to
shout any stupid nonsense while cumming.
head moved back, glanced up, his face looked fucked
and fucking, he grinned, pointing to the bed. "Over
there." Not a request, but an order. Time too fucking
precious to elaborate on bedside manners.
nodded, dazed, any order would make sense now, dumb
with need. Staggered to the bed, managed to sit down,
didn't bother to get up, just shuffled the yard over
on his knees. Pushing Jean's legs further apart, he
moved between them, then gave the other's chest a non
too gentle shove backwards. "Get a fucking pillow
into your mouth, or bite your fist." His grin had
turned feral, before he got back to his task.
reached blindly around for a pillow, smelling of sweat
and stale need, shoved it down, fucking ridiculous,
but the walls
reputation, and the need to cum.
And no sooner than done, Dan made it unbearable, dealing
with his cock with the utmost enthusiasm and a brutally
raw but mind-shattering skill for cocksucking.
himself further down, ignoring the instinct to choke,
Dan moved his hands, until his finger was well coated
with spit and precum. He could feel the other man getting
close, able to read the body as much as he could read
any man's, similar to his own. Hand moving backwards,
behind the dam, he found the tight muscle and the moment
he sucked down particularly viciously, he pushed that
slick finger deep into the legionnaire's arse.
came, surprised, shocked, but yes, fucking yes, good
he had that pillow in his mouth. That sound didn't become
a shout, and only just, came, body helplessly tensing
and twitching, a thing in his body, fucking good, unbearably
good. Got an inkling, a taste, of why Solange went berserk
in bed when he did that. It really felt like nothing
he pulled the pillow from his face, swallowed, dryly,
sweat running over his body, tickling him. Didn't want
to think, or speak, just glad now, sated, tired, relaxed,
so many good things. Opened an eye to look at Dan. Felt
lazy now, heavy and too warm but good.
hands moved carefully, one thing to push a finger into
a bloke when he's about to come, another to slide out
afterwards, when he's overly sensitive. He grinned,
wiped his lips. "Told you I was a cocksucking bastard."
Fuck, he loved that taste, so it wasn't Vadim's cum?
Well, neither was it Matt's. Who gave a fuck, he just
nodded, dazed mind realized Dan had swallowed, and he
groaned. "You stupid fuck, good I'm clean, huh?"
Grinned, mocking his own words.
you are such a stupid fuck to fuck your lady while fucking
fucked with disease? Fucking zilch."
my turn. Come here."
grinned, stood up. Damn, he needed to come. Opened his
cut-off BDUs, dropped them to the floor, not bothering
to step out of them, just threw himself onto the bed
beside Jean. His own cock in a state of urgent demand,
his body was at last covered in a thin sheen of sweat.
Glancing pointedly at Jean's left hand. "How the
fuck are you going to manage?"
Uhm. Shit." Still trying, Jean wrapped his hand
around Dan's cock, twisting his arm a bit, manoeuvred
himself onto his side with his legs. Stroking the other,
familiar, unfamiliar, strange, but promised, and clearly
needed. Not quite strong and precise enough, too awkward.
leant against the wall, limbs splayed on the bed, knees
open, watching Jean, his own cock, the hand, and groaning
with that goddamned need that was trying to reach relief
but just couldn't.
murmured. "Okay ... not exactly something ... I
was trained to do. Right?" Hot, silky flesh, heavy
" Dan groaned, closed his eyes, but
it wasn't, couldn't be. Not enough friction. "You
experienced my first blow job. Fuck,
was I crap." He managed to grin, then took hold
of the other's wrist while shaking his head. "It's
OK. I do it. You watch and learn till your bandage is
got a guilty glance from Jean, who clearly hated not
being able to live up to promises, but let his hand
being moved away. Dan started to stroke himself, slow
at first, but with a visible strength and a hint of
viciousness. Jean watched, not repulsed, not at all,
eyes slightly widened at the picture, something he'd
find hard to forget. Raised his hand as if wondering
where and how to touch Dan, or whether he shouldn't
at Jean's face, Dan's head moved forward, then suddenly
stopped. Fuck. The urge was there. All that Yank kid's
fault, but he couldn't just
if I kiss you?" Never stopping to stroke his own
stared at him, then his lips cracked into a grin. "Do
you think it would hurt much?"
if I haven't shaved for a day." Dan grinned, but
hell, he was getting rather desperate. His hand came
up to the back of Jean's neck, just rested, didn't use
any pressure. He closed his eyes for a moment when his
cock twitched, precum glistening on the tip, and he
swiftly slicked up his hand.
moved forward, pulled his legs closer to stay balanced,
and kissed Dan, eyes closed, lips open, with the feeling
at least he could do that much. Tasting smoke and bourbon
and lust as he pushed deeper, tongue fucking the other's
mouth, much like he would kiss his girl. Breaking away
only for a heartbeat to whisper: "Like that?"
fuck!" Dan gasped out, eyes open. Lust rising,
drawing in and concentrating before it flared up and
erupted. That man knew what he was doing with tongue
good kisser. He should shag a straight guy more often.
grinned. "Shhh. You don't want to eat pillow."
touch ... would be good ... too
" Fuck, Dan
was getting breathless and concentration was difficult.
hand moved to Dan's balls, took them and squeezed them,
while his tongue returned to Dan's mouth. Kisses and
touch fierce, with no reservation, no shyness.
response to the fierce kisses was violent. Stroking
himself fast, reckless, bordering on pain, it only took
one harder grip on his balls to topple him over. His
groan swallowed by Jean's mouth, as he came onto his
own chest, cum running down his hand. His body shook
almost uncontrollably with lust, tension, release and
licked his lips, pulling back, then grinned and dipped
in again to kiss Dan's neck, the line of the collar
bone, lips gathering some of the sweat. His hand idly
stroking up Dan's hand, arm, shoulder, and back. "I'd
love to share a woman with you", he murmured. "Feel
you move in somebody? That must be goddamned sexy."
hadn't quite got his breath back, closed his eyes and
dropping his head to the side to lazily give the other
man even better access to his neck. The sound that came
out of his chest was nearly a purr.
not sure if I could get it up with a woman these
days." Dan sighed contentedly at the touches of
hand and lips. "Been a while."
to remember. One and a half years ago. Not a woman,
that one, but a snake eater.
a thought. The legion has their own whores, did you
know that? They have to speak French. Some of them can
take two men, same time, some do." Jean reached
for the towel that had been cooling his neck and still
kept a little moisture, and dropped it in Dan's lap,
while kissing his throat and chest.
blindly for the towel, Dan wiped haphazardly at himself
and Jean, the kissing was far too good to bother with
cleaning off his sticky cum. He grinned, felt sweaty,
finally hot, and incredibly relaxed. Jean was different
to Matt, and both of them managed to make him feel bloody
damn good. Just what he needed.
legionnaire," Dan chuckled, towel in his lap, "you're
awfully good at this shit for a strictly straight guy."
kissing? Tell you what, women have necks and shoulders
and lips, too." Jean grinned and leaned against
the wall, arm brushing Dan's, the white bandage almost
glowing in the half-light. "Or good at being a
sexy bastard that has fags fall for him left right and
fucktard, you're getting too cocky." Dan's eyes
opened as he laughed, craning his neck to look at the
other. "So, how many fags do you have in your harem?
Can only see one at the moment."
face darkened, but then grinned again. "I had a
couple come-ons. Some of them fashion people."
made a sound of disgust. "Not my cuppa those folks.
Weirdoes. But to each their own, I guess, bet they'd
think that we are fucking bonkers." He dropped
the towel onto the floor before sprawling out on the
bed even more. So relaxed, he felt mellower than he
had for a long time. Even with Matt he could never quite
let himself go completely, the kid was just too young.
offered his thigh as a pillow, moved to get more comfortable
and rested a hand on Dan's chest.
the 'fall for' thing is relative." Dan let himself
slide down more until he lay on the bed, head on Jean's
thigh. As lazy as hell and as comfortable as heaven.
"Afraid I won't go and write love poems to you
now." He chuckled.
because you can't rhyme." Jean grinned down. "Ah,
bullshit. It's not that kind of thing. No strings, no
rings, as they say."
as fuck not." Dan laughed, blinked upwards, looking
at the other upside-down. "You got the love sorted
anyway. Good for you." His smile was nothing but
chuckled. "Yeah, good for me. A wife, and we'll
buy a house in the countryside, somewhere close to an
airport. Plan to sort that stuff out when I go on R&R
next. And in the meantime
" Jean's hand moved
to touch Dan's lips. "This kind of thing. Just
good. And free."
closed his eyes, enjoying the easy touch. "Seems
I'm a lucky bastard right now. Got myself a multi-national
harem." He smirked idly.
fuck Americans? Unless you were talking Jews, because
of the 'cut' part." Jean leaned back again, reached
around for a bottle of water. Got back up again, unscrewed
the bottle and took a big mouthful, then offered the
warm water to Dan, who took the bottle.
up by tensing his abs muscles, Dan grinned. "I
trust you, Jean. I get that gut feeling, too."
He gulped down several mouthfuls of the tepid water
before handing it back, then letting himself relax once
more on Jean's thigh. "That's why I'm telling you."
He closed his eyes.
That way you keep out of the rumour mill. Stays out
of camp, difficult to trace. And seriously, which guy
can resist getting sucked off?" Jean again touched
Dan's lips, a speculative grin on his face.
brows raised without opening his eyes. "None."
He liked cocksucking too much to argue. "But that's
not the point." His tongue snaked out to play idly
with the fingers on his lips.
So, are you or are you not?"
I or am I not, what? A cocksucking slut?" The word
made him grin. 'Slut', hilarious, really. He'd had one
single man until four months ago. Pathetic, rather,
a Yank, aye. Been seeing the kid regularly for four
months." Dan opened his eyes, a mixture of grin
and smile on his face. Quite obviously rather fond of
the person in question. "Jarhead, beefcake, buff'n
beautiful, the typical All American Sports type."
Grinning before he leisurely let his tongue run over
the fingers once more.
grinned and ran the thumb over Dan's lips before placing
the hand on the jaw. "You don't have to sell him
to me", he chuckled. "But if he rocks your
boat, cool. So, blue balls syndrome and wanting to get
sucked like from a pro?"
mate, you don't seem to have much faith in my charms.
Bastard. There's more to me than giving head."
Dan grinned. "He's gay, just like me. He's twenty-nothing.
Loves his job, just tough luck he's a fag with a boyfriend
back home, who's not happy about him being in the US
Military. You do know what it means to be found out
being gay if you're an American soldier?" Looking
up at Jean.
You go to hell when you die, because God hates fags.
Discharge too. Or do they go to prison for it?"
shrugged, "Not sure. Never had to give a shit about
all of that, but the kid's cool, nice guy, idolises
'Mad Dog' a bit, which makes me laugh." He shook
his head before stretching out. Far too comfortable
right now, and fuck, was it good. "Thing is, I'm
bloody protective. Kid was desperate, approached me,
and yeah, been meeting up since then. Anyone finding
out that he's getting it off with the fucked-up merc,
I'd have to kill them. Kid deserves better than a dishonourable
lips are sealed." Jean grinned. "Twenty? Pretty
close to cradle-robbing, only that the cradle jumped
at you. Never mind. Solange is twenty-three. Looks like
seventeen, eighteen, depending on makeup."
laughed, "cradle-snatching, yeah, right. At least
my 'kid' is a buff piece of meat." He peered up,
"hope your Solange is healed soon. Must be a fucking
incredible lot of pain to deal with. I remember my shredded
No, cheers mate, not going to have something
cut off, then cut deep, then twisting, shaping, forming
and turning into something else."
grew serious and a little pale. "Yeah. But she
wants it. She wants it so bad. Crying all the time,
I mean, if somebody's in so much pain about
it, you can't really just watch. Well, and the only
way we can get married and so on. I don't really want
to think about it, what they do. The surgeon explained,
but it was too technical for me to understand, thank
smiled, then yawned. "She seems bloody courageous
and tough to me. Looking forward to meet her at your
year, end of April. Chestnut bloom in Paris. Honeymoon
is to Reunion, that's near Madagascar. Surfing, snorkelling,
swimming, big huge ass cocktails and fish grilled right
on the beach all day. Oh fuck, yeah."
leaned back, grinning, one shoulder against the wall.
"Wonder if I should kick you out or keep you here
for the night. We could just have fallen asleep."
Dan yawned again, stretching down to the toes, "I'll
be off. I don't sleep with anyone. Prefer to be on my
enough." Jean grinned. "This is not exactly
a king size bed." He ran his hand through Dan's
hair. "Pretty nice, by the way. We could play chess
again. Some kind of team building. Get the team leaders
to know each other better, eh?"
Dan gave a toothy grin. "What, the hair?"
Deliberately misunderstood. Sitting up he stretched
his upper body before fishing for the shorts that had
ended up somewhere between ankles and bed. The flip
flops couldn't be too far away either. "Good thing
I always look dishevelled, aye? Wouldn't do to have
a teamleader crawl out of another teamleader's den at
night, looking fucked and smelling of sex."
doubt there are enough people around to smell anything.
Could have watched porn and wanked. Not that this wasn't
was laughing as he got off the bed, looking for his
t-shirt to put it back on. "Aye, it was good."
Found it, slipped into the shirt, stood for a moment
before stepping back to the bed and leaning down. "I'll
see you again after work, legionnaire. I feel like a
game of chess tomorrow, but without booze, got to be
off for a week, at least. No strain on the arm. And
nowhere else to go, really, apart from, of course, desert-watching."
Jean grinned. "No booze? Fuck, and I was starting
to think the plying with booze part was a good start."
was still close, then reached out to grab Jean's neck
and planted a swift surprise-attack with tongue and
teeth onto the other's lips. Sweeping deeply into Jean's
mouth before pulling back up, Jean opened up on instinct,
hand reaching for Dan's shoulder.
the best thing?" Dan's voice was low, husky and
amused, "no one's going to fucking believe any
of this. Safe in plain sight."
out with a straight guy has advantages, huh?"
it does." Dan grinned and stood back, walking towards
the door and snatching the bottle of bourbon on the
dreams, mate." Undoing the padlock, Dan slipped
out of the door, whistling as he went back to his own
tin oven that he called his room. Life had become remarkable
easy-going lately. Except for
he had a bad feeling about this. The change was subtle,
but Vadim could see the change in Dan. Mad Dog Dan was
having a brilliant time and the main reason was the
fact that he spent more time with Jean's crew than with
his own. Playing pool, doing the usual shit-grinned
gropes and touches, the banter. One big, happy family,
the legionnaire held court, or whatever, and Dan was
the guest of honour.
others might buy the thing. Jean was over the top, clearly,
slightly overplayed it as if to drive the point home
that they had suddenly just realized they were really
alike. Jokes about French-British friendship, which
sounded just as phoney as the Soviet-Afghan one had
was too comfortable touching the other man. It might
be just a pat on the back to announce it was him at
breakfast. The way Jean called him, fucking 'stud',
and everybody found that hilarious. The thought of Jean
doing something with avowedly gay Mad Dog was pure comedy.
Only Vadim had felt him come, tasted him. Had seen how
Jean had closed his eyes and thought of something else,
and wondered whether Jean had grown a taste for that.
Vadim watched that for a day. The next day, at breakfast,
he clearly saw Jean place his hand on Dan's shoulder,
lean in and say something with a broad, shit-eating
grin that was about a private joke they shared. Dan
laughed, took Jean's neck and pressed the face into
his shoulder, rubbing the head none-too-tender.
sound made conversation stop, and some people looked
at him. Vadim opened his hand, wiped the splinters of
glass off, two minor cuts. He hadn't held the glass
anywhere near the bottom or his hand would look much
worse. The orange juice pooled on his tray, red mixed
into it. Piss and blood. Vadim stood to bring the tray
away, watched by more eyes than he wanted. Rolled through
the mess like a tank, the injured hand formed a fist
to keep the blood in, and his eyes promised murder,
but he didn't look at anybody. Oh no. That meant warning
medic cleaned out the cuts, checked the sinews, told
Vadim that the callous had taken the worst, and Vadim
nodded. He could have done that by himself. Had the
wound disinfected and plastered, with a bandage for
dust protection, some of the shit in the dust was just
asking for access to a fresh wound. Had his jabs renewed,
and deemed fit for service.
Knew it was difficult to catch the man alone these days.
Patience. Had an idea where Jean might be seeking privacy,
headed over to the phones. Jean was just hanging the
receiver up, turned and stared at him.
finished? Or just started?"
look like it."
stepped into his way. "I know what's going on",
you? No longer fucking clueless, then? Good. Suits you."
you'd say 'fucking'."
huffed. "Funny you'd say 'funny'. Listen, terminator,
I don't buy your shit, and you get out of my way now,
because spetsnaz or not, I am your teamleader, and I
can have you RTUed faster than you can slaughter a nest
of baby birds. You fucking freak."
there is no unit you can return me to."
me a river. That's hardly my fault." Jean kept
staring at him. "Anything else, Krasnorada?"
glanced around, saw that one guy from Dan's team just
moved within earshot. The camp would be yakking about
stuff unless he cut it right now. "Playing chess,
grinned. "You bet. Off with you, Krasnorada. There's
some desert out there you can liberate."