was lying on top of the grubby bed linen, in a small,
dirty room of a similar run-down hotel in the centre
of Kabul. The whores came with the room price and so
did the silence if they were thrown out, empty-handed.
was dressed in nothing but his combat trousers. Too
hot, even for him. Legs sprawled, he stared up on the
ceiling, watching the slow motion and tired sound of
the ceiling ventilator chopping the air like an overburdened
his hand to raise the bottle of cheap lager to his lips.
A couple of gulps and a wipe with the back of his hand,
then once again staring upwards, watching the chop-chop-chop,
in an ever circular, hypnotising motion.
couldn't be bothered to wipe the trickles of fresh sweat
off his chest, feeling them pool in the hollow between
his pecs. Surprised at the way his body reacted to the
heat, for once. Too much effort to raise his arms, except
for another mouthful of lukewarm beer, before letting
them lead-heavy rest on the rickety bed.
and smears on the walls, dirt encrusted windows, and
the never ceasing rotation of the lazy rotor blades,
as he lay, waiting.
can't ... we don't have enough ... prospects negative
... unforeseen shortage ... this week's casualties ...
officer compromised in local drug trade ... two suicides
... self-harm ... patrol late, seek and rescue party
advised ... loss of one Hind helicopter near Kunduz
paperwork made Gogol's stories seem light and entertaining
reading. Vadim had stopped reading Gogol in this place.
Difficult enough to keep sane as it was. Time for Butterbars
to get some of his shitty work done. He stepped out
of his office and ordered a passing soldier to get him
the Lt. He liked the American term for a young, inexperienced
Lt. Butterbars. Brilliance.
the Americans fought half as well as they were being
disrespectful, they were a fearsome force. Despite the
noises from the Kremlin, he still expected the all out
war - expected it with a morbid fascination for what
was definitely the end of the world. There was something
deeply attractive about two forces keen and honed on
each other's destruction. Romantic.
boy eventually showed up, and Vadim stepped to the side,
offering his office with a gesture. "Get done as
much as you can. I'm back before curfew."
grabbed some chow on the way, his bottle of vodka -
rations might be scarce, but Moscow would face mutiny
if they failed to deliver the vodka. Not that those
bottles didn't get reused for moonshine which was, according
to the taste, distilled from anything between tank break
fluid and piss.
vanished in Kabul. At least they did control Kabul.
He could be out on the street, so visibly the enemy.
The goat-fuckers had learned that it was unwise to take
an officer down. However, the insurgents were up in
the mountains, biding their time - and getting better
and better with those fucking Stinger rockets. Flying
over the Afghan countryside was like turning a rock
with a bare hand. The place swarmed with scorpions.
narrow door in a dark alley. He entered, walked past
the domestic squabble, possibly about pay, whatever.
Not his business. Up the creaking stairs. Couldn't help
but notice again that this place would be a nightmare
to storm. Vision blocked, and he suspected if he sent
more than two men up these stairs - men in full kit,
not two Afghan men - the whole structure would come
door was not locked. He placed his fingertips against
the aged wood, pushed it open before he appeared in
the door frame. Couldn't shed the training that had
taught him that door frames were vertical coffins. Never
truly sure what awaited him. He expected Dan to be ready
to attack, or train a gun on him, for fun and training.
sound, not enough to rouse Dan more than lifting his
head off the greasy pillow, too familiar those steps.
His arm moved, downing another mouthful, eyes half closed.
The door opened. Vadim. Standing in silence, until dark
eyes met ice blue.
dark figure on the bed. Dan took well to the sun. It
did very little to him, certainly didn't skin him alive
like it did Vadim. Vadim could turn golden, but never
dark. It made the contrast of skin against skin more
intense. The colours as stark in Vadim's mind as the
colours of their respective flags. Amusing that their
flags only shared one colour: Red. That was also the
only colour their bodies shared.
might be asleep. Fallen asleep while sprawling all over
the bed, like men did when they suddenly found themselves
in more space than a bunk normally offered. Claiming
more than was their right.
raised the bottle towards the other. "Welcome to
heaven and hell once more, Russkie." In Russian,
and he smiled at last.
made contact, the bottle of beer greeted him. Vadim
stepped in, took a chair and jammed it under the door
handle, as Dan had done, the first time in this room.
It wouldn't keep anybody out, but it would make noise
if anybody did come in. He smirked at the greeting,
let the bag slip from his shoulder. "There is no
heaven or hell. We are alone in this world. No god."
found the concept intriguing, much more romantic than
the facts. He had searched for meaning too long. Now,
all he wanted was to not think. He was tired of being
defeated, day in, day out, not by bullets, not by superior
strength wrestling him down, but by numbers and facts,
arrows on a map on the wall.
a war that was now an endless column of numbers, endless
paperwork, it took one enemy to feel alive.
laughed, shook his head. Right now didn't care about
life, death, destruction, and why the fuck they were
all here in this world. That would come soon enough.
Too soon. Waiting for the beer to be taken out of his
hand, he grinned. "Trust you fucking insane Russkie
to be deep and meaningful in this shithole."
looked healthy and his hair had been cut fairly recently,
just back from Old Blighty and a spot of well deserved
R & R. Reaching for the packet of black Super King's,
he'd left the usual Russian coffin nails behind for
stepped closer to the bed, took the bottle, emptied
it with one quick, big swallow. He hated the taste.
In his mind, the stuff tasted like autumn leaves, when
they were starting to rot, and somebody pressed your
face into the putrid mess. But the taste was also Dan.
His lips had been right there, and there was something
of him clinging to the glass. It was the nearest thing
to kissing. He put the bottle down, after weighing it
like a weapon.
lit a fag before grabbing another beer, already open,
watching the other expectantly. He took a swig, then
a deep, satisfying drag from the cigarette, blowing
the smoke towards the ceiling fan. He still hadn't moved
and wouldn't. Just sprawled out and watching, waiting.
The sluggish chop-chop-chop of the rotor blades had
lost his interest. Studying the man at the foot of the
bed instead, while grinning with bared teeth.
glanced down at Dan, saw the teeth, and felt his body
tighten, tense, at the restored machine. And that in
the good way. Naked skin, the dirt and grime here, and
that grin that was always a challenge, always mocking.
Smoking, drinking beer, relaxing. It was a challenge
to prove him wrong. He stepped away, out of the smoke,
one habit that had never really stuck, despite plenty
of opportunity. He just needed every molecule of oxygen
that his lungs could process. Habits formed that young
hardly ever gave way.
did nothing, nothing at all but watch, taking in every
movement, each facial expression. This was his reward,
this scrutiny of the 'enemy soldier'. Rewards for his
ruthlessness - choreographing Afghani and Soviet troops
to dance the last grotesque waltz of death and destruction.
No guilt, no emotions. Duty was duty.
opened the shirt, just calmly looking at the sprawling
figure, resisted the urge to place it somewhere, somewhere
where he could reach it in case he had to run. The striped
shirt next, leaving only the dog tags around his neck.
He liked the rustling sound they made when he moved,
liked to drive home the point he still was what he was.
It also felt strangely honest - his rank and name and
blood type. Cyrillic, but Dan knew the 'para' was a
boots. Bending down, as if mocking on his part now.
A challenge. Knowing he was watched, assessed like a
prized bull. They were alone, and he was tired of being
stranded without that rolling wave that could take him
and only left him when he felt like a burnt-down fire.
Then trousers, underwear, all shabby when contrasted
with the kit Dan carried around.
was naked, in prime shape, he had no other pastime,
at least not officially. The sunburn on his collarbones,
the skin flaking there, raw and white, peeling, like
the bridge of his nose, the top of his ears. Cuts and
scratches on his hands. The rocks. He took a step and
knelt with one leg on the bed. Dan was still sprawled,
and that was an invitation to get on top. Mingle sweat
with sweat, dog tags the first thing that touched the
other man. Vadim grinned, his hands already on the belt.
grinned in reply. His eyes travelled from the burnt
skin, forever delicate, no matter how many years his
Russkie would stay in this shit hole, down towards the
navel and then the cock. Wasn't aware that he moistened
his lips A good cock. Belonging to a madman who knew
what to do with it.
his eyes back to the face. He still hadn't moved, except
for his arm that dropped the half-smoked cigarette in
the nearly finished beer bottle, putting it back onto
the shoddy table beside him. Still no movement, none
at all. No visible tension. Just sprawled, glistening
with sweat, and relishing those hands on his belt. "Been
eyes on his body. Vadim tensed his stomach muscles,
some kind of armour. He had never needed armour when
simply jumping a man. Then he had been all coiled up,
all rage, all fucking need to blow, and that was it.
The belt clicked open, his hands opened one button,
then they pulled Dan's trousers down - just enough to
hinder the legs as he let his hand run over the other
man's cock. "I can see that."
desire, fighting with pure, naked stress up in the mountains,
every step could be a mine, every encounter friendly
fire, or hostiles; when he stood guard, he could hear
their sounds in the valleys. Allahu-akhbar. God is greater,
let's kill some Soviets.
was hard, not a surprise, he'd been waiting for nine
hours, left alone with the goddamned fan on that claustrophobic
ceiling - and his thoughts and memories. Memories of
blood and pain, of survival, desperation and strength;
of lust and want, and a body that could match his own.
A body that was handling his own right now. Hands, as
strong as his, killer's hands. They both knew what it
was like to be a God of Men.
in those mountains was hostile. The sun, the wind. Vadim
moved up Dan's body, then went for the muscle on his
chest, teeth biting without warning, the firm, round
flesh, at the same time bringing his weight to bear,
rubbing against him, their cocks trapped between their
bodies. He took Dan's arms and held them down, like
a crucified, tied up man, tied to a rock. His teeth
moved up to trace the collarbone, breathe the mix of
beer and sweat, maybe a hint of aftershave. Grinding
against him, feeling what was not his hand, and not
some poor hapless fuck in the barracks, and not the
barely gasped, the tiniest of sounds, even in this shit
hole of a hotel he couldn't stop the silence. Impact
of teeth, touch of dog tag metal, warmed by equally
heated skin, and sweat-slick gliding of body against
me feel, Russkie." Dan murmured in Russian, while
his body arched towards the teeth and lips, these hands,
that body. Yes, motherfucker, make me feel. Take the
tainted memory of a false world away, make me forget
civilisation and take me back into the reality of a
world that was nothing but hell. It was rare, this request,
teeth bared in a feral growl, teeth that wanted to rend,
lips that wanted to kiss and lick and maybe suck, later,
maybe if Dan was being especially nice. He could feel
the other submit, submit like he had not done once in
that first ill-fated encounter in that house that was
now blown to shreds.
hand trailed down to the ground, found the scarf Dan
wore against the dust and dirt, thought about blindfolding
him, but then, he liked to watch that face, liked to
watch the reckless power, the desire. He bit the muscle
that was stretched on the shoulder, knee forcing down
the trousers, finally the foot, kicking them down all
the way without changing position.
wanted to tie him to the bed and it was too fucking
dangerous. Kabul. Hotel. No fucking security. Only one
way to do it, make a point.
a flicker of his wrist, Vadim formed the scarf into
a sling, and slid it around Dan's neck and throat, pulling
it close, close enough for Dan to feel his own heartbeat.
He'd done it before, his hands. Remembered the reaction.
swallowed. Eyes flickered to the sling. He could fight,
but he trusted, had done it before. Yet this was as
much for real as the killing in the fields and the mountains.
No sound, just the heartbeat in his ears and the sensation
of heat travelling up to his face, increasing pressure
when the blood flow was held back and his air was reduced.
Vadim breathed, impossible to know whether this was
English or Russian, and he moved enough to allow a tight,
squeezing turn around. Lube. Not weapon oil. He didn't
now, we play prisoner.
turned. Simply obeyed the order. A moment's struggle
to move his body beneath the other in the tight confinement
of danger and heat. Adrenaline coursing, he was addicted
to its heights, no drug could be as good as the natural
one. Coupled with the heat, focussed in his cock, grinding
into the dirty bed linen, he smelled the stench of sweat
and stale cigarette smoke, as his face was ground into
the small space between bed, pillows, and wall. He should
be fucking frightened right now, but all he was, was
so hard, he feared he would cum, way before they'd even
scarf tightened some more and fuck! Dan's mouth opened,
he struggled, his body moving instinctively due to the
lack of oxygen. Pressed his face between the grimy bars
of the rickety bed, cold metal against heated flesh,
and tried to swallow. Failed, forced in a breath, producing
a rattling sound in his restricted throat.
This time - like every time - it was for real.
thought he could feel the heartbeat through the scarf;
twisted it around his wrist, free hand opening the tube,
long fingers squirting the cool stuff into his hand.
He grinned. Dan could use some of that cold. It added
rip you this time", he said, English, just sounded
less tender, maybe, and he could feel Dan was grinding
into the mattress. Knew him, that was what he would
do. Pushing the legs apart with his knees, forcing them
under the man, lifting the hips from the mattress.
slick hand coating that hot, heavy cock, the balls,
just fucking with his mind right now. Fingers sliding
up towards the crack, fingers on the dam behind the
balls, pressing, massaging, knowing how fucking much
that screwed his own mind when it happened, the thumb
circling the hole, scarred, as he knew. Well. The secret
scar nobody else would ever see. There was something
impossibly erotic about the fact he'd been the first,
and would be the last. Nobody could get Dan into this
had the strength, and maybe he'd broken or torn more
than the physical resistance back then. What he knew
was that as much as he tried, his own hand never possessed
the heat, the utter insanity of this body, try as he
might, imagine as he might, when he could, if he found
the time and energy to jerk off with the memory of raping
this body, and the memory of that body on top, chest
to chest, whatever, only the fucking heat and that smell
and the insane need they both had for destruction.
thumb pressed in, pressed against the rim, massaging
straight into it, not bothering to penetrate much. It
screwed his mind, it would screw Dan's. Give him a taste
of what they both wanted. "Tell me, how much do
you want to feel, Lapushka?" Everything, all the
way, hard, cruel, intense fucking. But he loved how
the coarse voice broke. Leaving him just enough air
body jerked on its own. Past caring; thinking even.
Too much, too fucking much. Air diminished while something
else increased. Something dark and angry, bloodied and
full of fucking hatred. Against the Army, Britain, his
duties, Kabul, damned Mujahideen, the fucking world
and himself. Against Vadim? No! Wanted him there. Needed
him. Kill and destroy, once more, forever again.
and thrashing against and into the hands. He couldn't
breathe, heard a voice, couldn't understand, gasped
out, no air, and too much physical intrusion. "Fuck
you! Fucking hate you!"
me, hurt me, use me, give me a reason to be angry, to
hate. Give me a reason to go on with this shit, to kill,
destroy, survive. Give me more than just a fucking joke
of a military order!
me a reason!"
flame flared up in Vadim. The darkness he was holding
in check, the fascination for the other's strength and
trust, transformed into the need to make him feel exactly
that. That he was his, simple, brutal little word, really.
As simple and as brutal as the fact he moved in, brought
his weight in and started to enter. Well, if ramming
down a door was entering. The whole man fighting him,
just exactly what it was that had torn his soul open
that first night, and a drug he had craved, throughout
five years. Those times they went to the limits, when
it was like something unbelievably savage and brutal.
Dog eat dog. Man on man. Fuck you, he thought, tenderness
and need and, above all, that dark flood pounding against
the anchoring of his sanity.
of oxygen multiplied the lust. Dan couldn't breathe,
exactly what he wanted, and needed, and what set his
body free. Extreme arousal, brain going mad, terror
and panic, those hands, the body, everywhere
called it hatred. Vadim called it complete and utter
knowledge. He pressed the man against the bed, nevermind,
pulling him back at the same time, fucking impossibly
raging need, and fucked him hard. No way to hold back,
no need to, not even the thought of it. He had enough
sense to let go of the scarf, but not to stop, never
to stop, riding his own lust and Dan's anger, purging
both with bone grinding force. He came too fast, too
easy, and felt like breaking under the onslaught.
heard himself scream inside his mind, but only a groan
came out of his throat. It fucking hurt, that cock tore
him and speared him and split his mind apart. It brought
him back into Kabul, into that shitty place and his
fucking life and yes, that was it, it was life and living,
not just existing. He hated Vadim right now, wanted
to kill him, destroy him, and needed him. Wanted him.
Pain, dirt, grime and stench and impossible heat of
sweat, bodies and raw power.
Alive. Could feel his own body, fighting another's and
just took and rode the strength of his Russian.
cock stayed hard, body didn't come, unlike the force
inside of him. He wasn't done. It wasn't over yet. It
would never be.
was listening to his heart pound, or that of the man
underneath. Both raced. Listening to the fibres in his
body, hot, sweat-drenched; for some reason he needed
to drink, drink anything, vodka, blood, anything that
quenched the thirst. He rested for a moment, just one
moment, feel it vibrate through his body, like a weapon,
just that. A gift. Not willing, reason forbid this was
willingly, but still a gift. Felt there, here. Finally.
He pulled away, sat back on his knees, felt his shoulders,
his thighs groan from the amount of strength he had
had to invest. More weightlifting. He regarded the man,
still sprawled. Dan. The flushed skin, shimmering with
scrabbling to loosen the noose around his neck, Dan
panted for breath. Eyes glittering dangerously when
he craned his neck to turn his head. Not a word, but
his fist was starting to close. One more second and
it would connect with that grinning face.
couldn't help but enjoy Dan fester and boil in his silence,
then leaned over to get at the bottle. Uncorking, he
slapped the firm round ass checks. "Just one moment",
he said, exaggerating his accent in English. Like a
peasant trying out a phrasebook. He grabbed the bottle
to drink. The liquor both cooling and burning its way
was it, that one step too far and Dan flung around,
twisted beneath the other, let his fist fly towards
the bastard's face. "Get me off, you fucker!"
ducked out of the way and spilt the vodka over half
his chest, then tossed the bottle into one corner of
the room, where it spun, but didn't break, the smell
of vodka mingling with the smell of sweat and dust and
heat. Where was a knife when you needed one? Probably
under the pillow somewhere, if he knew Dan well enough.
He shifted position, took Dan's legs and pulled him
around, onto his back, the man seething at him, as if
warning him to make one more stupid joke or even wait
time to study the body or appreciate it, his hand, slick
and sticky, took the cock, and there was just a moment
when he thought with irony, hang on, I'm Captain, I
don't do this anymore, follow orders, but he did enjoy
the thought of the knife somewhere close. Dan was in
no mood to suffer more teasing. He dipped his head,
and took part of the cock between his lips, the taste
of sweat and Dan stronger now than the vodka. He almost
laughed. Fucker, Cocksucker indeed.
Dan cursed between a hissed intake of breath. Arching
upwards, towards the heat and the burning-stinging throat,
still coated with oily vodka.
could count the times he'd got a willing blow-job out
of Vadim on two hands. Not now; because right now he
lifted himself off the pillow and pushed his hands onto
the blond head, forcing him down onto his cock. Needed
to feel and to remember that there was more than the
flaming pain in his arse.
did fight. That was expected. Tensed his neck, his throat,
his lips, fingers digging into the flesh of Dan's thighs.
Heat and firmness, the impossible soft skin, and allowed
it to happen, resisting just enough to make it worth
Dan's while. Nostrils flaring to find some breath, then
he felt how Dan invaded his throat, and breath stopped.
Fighting every reflex in his body, the stinging fear
of being choked, while he knew getting him off was the
quickest way to breathe again. Moving his head frantically,
sliding the cock in and out, reckless, took him as deep
as he would go, sweating like a horse now, but controlling
his breath. Sometimes, his coach had said, you just
can't breathe. That's life.
didn't need long, weeks of pent-up need, stuck in a
world back in Britain that he didn't understand anymore.
Had his hand, jerked off with some mags from under the
counter, no more. The world was easier in Afghanistan.
Black and white; life and death; and who he fucked didn't
arching, moving towards and forcing deeper, his body
taking possession where he had been possessed before.
One, two more moments, and he started to curse under
his breath when the built-up crashed down hard and fast.
felt Dan's cock twitch, pulse, cum spurting into his
throat, the sounds that Dan made went right through
him. He pulled back, wiped his lips with the back of
his hand, then got off the bed to find the rest of the
vodka. One taste against the other. One taste against
non-taste, nothing but an oily burn. And this was the
was breathing with closed eyes. Revelling in the glory
after an orgasm. A real one, not just a hand-job, wanking
in his bunk or anywhere with a modicum of privacy. Or
no privacy, whatever. Fucking Muslim country, and unlike
Vadim, he had no means for release. None. The sexual
frustration and greed that mounted in between fucking
with his crazy Russkie was a force of nature to behold.
lay sprawled, still on his back, just as he had been
left and in almost the same position as before. Crucified
by slaked lust. Lying motionless was pure contentment.
lowered the bottle, offered it to Dan as he sat down
on the bed, leaning against the wall.
finally cracked an eye open at the sound of liquid sloshing
in a bottle, lifted an arm with effort, finished the
last dregs of vodka before handing the empty bottle
back to Vadim.
smell, Vadim thought, Dan's smell heavy in the air.
If he only could now step out of this room and vanish
into a lake, swim, wash the dirt away, and most of all
that heat. Good food, relax, sleep into the day, take
out a horse for a long, thoughtful ride. His memories
presented a collection of the things he liked to do
before he had learned to enjoy killing people and resisting
overwhelming odds, at least that was what it felt like.
The superiors told him that this was part of a strategy.
They weren't here for the short term. Afghanistan was
a long-term investment. Some people said it would take
twenty, even thirty years, rebuilding it from scratch,
ironic", he murmured. "We came to bring them
Communism. But Marx wrote you need a proletariat for
Communism. These people are still in a state before
that. Tribes. Marx never wrote about goat herders."
He put the empty bottle down, most of that was drying
on the floorboards. He glanced at Dan. Politics. A minefield.
" Dan groaned, "What the fuck
are you on about?" Vadim's tendency to get all
deep and meaningful on him in the most ludicrous situations
pissed him off sometimes. Not this time, though. Too
hot, sweaty, aching and satisfied to gather the energy.
"You don't really believe all that shit, do you?
It's about survival. Communism, Capitalism, it's all
lies." He shrugged, sluggishly pulling himself
up on the bed. Found a dirty pillow to support his head,
the movement revealed a glance onto a knife beneath
it, before he lay back, stretching his aching body.
the fuck would those goat herders want a state like
yours? The glory of Mother Russia and all that shit?
Let them fuck their sheep and live their crap lives.
That's what they're good at - that and guerrilla warfare."
Another shrug, treading thin ice with the last comment.
He wasn't going to go any further out on that lake.
a job." Dan reached for another beer bottle on
the table, hit the cap on the edge and opened it, before
taking a swig and lighting another cigarette. "It's
just a fucking job. For you, for me, and if anyone says
it is beyond that simple bit of truth: it's bullshit."
looked thoughtfully at the bottle. How he would have
fought that notion off. He wasn't one of the leaders
in the Konsomol. Even as a 'young communist', he couldn't
bother arguing the fine points. Of course he believed.
And Dan was what they had taught him Europeans were:
Self-centred, materialistic and ultimately nihilist.
He was right in his assessment of the goat-herders,
but they could transform this society. After all, that
was the Great Plan. Russia was the fortress of socialism,
the safe place, and from there, they could lead sorties.
The question was, were the sacrifices justified?
put the bottle down, looked at the legs, hips, the resting
cock; especially that. "Why are you soldier then?
Because you couldn't find different job?" He shifted
weight, then decided to get closer, and moved up against
the side Dan rested against, sitting there, legs spread,
and resting his head, closing his eyes.
day you bloody Russians let a man have a peaceful comedown
after an orgasm, that day I turn Communist." Dan
grumbled, took a swig from the beer, a drag from the
cigarette, and exhaled slowly, staring once more at
the lazy ceiling fan. "I tell you why. As you know,
I was a farmer's son from the Scottish Highlands, with
a younger brother with a sense for farming and finances.
Unlike me. I was the one with a taste for adventure
instead. It made sense that he inherited the farm, not
me." Another drag - another pause, while smoke
curled out of his nostrils.
joined the army, volunteered for the Paras, because
I wanted fun and adventure, sex and booze. I was about
to turn eighteen, I wanted to prove that I was a man,
a real man." Eyes glued to the chop-chop-chop of
the rotor blades, Dan added with a bone-dry huff, "didn't
quite work out the 'manly' way I thought it would, did
is young." Vadim's lip quirked into an ironic smile.
Young like the fucking conscripts. He was trying to
imagine Dan at eighteen. But he couldn't get the wide-eyed
innocence he knew from the conscripts to fit on Dan's
face. It wouldn't stick. In his mind, an eighteen year
old Dan was the Dan next to him, minus the scars, and
less bulk. "You got sex and booze alright",
he said, lips smirking more. He risked a glance to the
side and tensed his stomach to receive the punch.
receive the punch, perhaps too hot, too sweaty, or something
else, something that was on Dan's mind and he couldn't
let go of it.
fucker," Dan grinned at the other, finished the
stale beer before dropping the bottle onto the floor.
"Got the booze alright, just happened to miss the
bus to shagging Girlsville half-way through."
Whatever place that was. Probably one of many jokes
that held the British forces together. Vadim turned
his head to look at Dan, Dan's skin glowing in the late
last drag on the cigarette before Dan stubbed it out
on the grimy table, rolling onto his side to face Vadim,
wincing at the soreness and stickiness in his arse.
Skin sweat-slicked, glistening in the sunlight of a
late afternoon in Hell.
sure about the fun bit anymore, but got the adventure
alright." Unexpectedly moving his hand, splaying
his fingers and pressing palm against the other's stomach
muscles. Just watching, feeling, studying.
touch was unexpected, and a small shock to Vadim. The
dark hand on his paler skin. He shifted the breath inside
his body, moved it to his chest, as if he didn't want
to disturb that shy animal that had settled on him.
chuckled tonelessly. They were both animals; it didn't
got to be off for a while, up to twelve months."
Euphemism, delivered deadpan, no inflexion in his voice,
but the fingers on the pale, heated skin twitched.
felt tension return to him, inside, like a churning
stomach. Twelve months. He closed his eyes again. Summer,
Autumn, winter, spring, summer. Bodies did things during
so much time. Killed, died, gave birth. He felt queasy.
Hoped Dan would remain posted here. They could move
him to anywhere in the world, a hundred places where
he couldn't reach him. Breath returned, he forced himself
to inhale, then exhale. "You're glutton for adventure,
grinned, failed miserably, for the first time. "You
call the fucking mountains 'adventure'?" It was
all he could say, all he could hope would make the other
understand. "Guess you could," he shrugged.
Abortive movement, his hand slid off Vadim's skin, kept
barely contact with his fingertips. Morse code sent
across stomach muscles with every breath.
in it too deep, Vadim. No comfy desk job for me."
Dan joked, his usual manner, fucked that up as well.
Thought, desperate, and you won't even know if it was
you who killed me. The mountains. Insurgents. Death
and destruction to the Soviets. Twelve months? Unspoken
code for 'under cover'. No ID, no backup, no one to
know where his flesh was rotting if he got caught. "I'd
be bloody useless at a cosy job back in Blighty, anyway."
mind was racing. Which part, which fucking part. Panjir?
Further South? He wanted to grab that hand and press
it, remember it when it wasn't there anymore, but then
he thought fuck it, I'll take a different memory off
him before he is out that door. So many places where
Dan could be useful to the insurgents. Bamian, Nangahar,
Kandahar, Herat. And villages, valleys, mountains and
rocks, most of which had no name he knew.
thought of the knife, thought of wounding only to keep.
They'd put it down to self-harm, and Dan had no other
way to explain that. Fuck. Twelve months. Impossible
to know the plans of his superiors for the next twelve
months. If one of the gloryhounds decided to launch
a full offensive, he'd know a couple weeks in advance.
"Careful with butterflies in Panjir", he said.
Butterfly mines. He knew that much. They would cover
the whole Panjir area in mines smaller than his hand.
He had seen the lists, the plans. They had to deny the
insurgents free movement in that area.
nodded. Understood. Military secrets, plans, who the
fuck cared. He stalled before lifting his eyes, looking
straight into the other's face. "Don't know where
I will be, Russkie." The truth. Nothing but the
truth. Dan was a shit liar, and this was simply the
truth. Silence. Breathing. Fingers moving slowly, sliding,
tracing along sweat-slicked skin, until his hand rested
on Vadim's hip. Dan would never cease to marvel at the
sensation of hardness beneath smooth skin. Had taken
him too many years to find what he really wanted, he'd
never grow tired of it.
up for another round?" Quietly, they'd said all
the words they could. Time to let their bodies take
over. It was all they had in the end, and all they could
Vadim closed his eyes under the touch, tensed lightly,
felt the fingertips like knives go right through him,
into him. The strong touch, he could feel the strength
linger somewhere, ready to be used and reached for.
got a bottle of good whisky." Silent question 'how
long can you stay?'
had said he'd be back before curfew. Six hours. He'd
be in trouble. But six hours weren't enough against
twelve months. "I have the night." Yeah, comrade
major, put me into the fucking brig. Whatever. "Let's
grinned, relief, written all over his face. Shit liar,
worse deceiver. "Just a sec." He rolled back
over to the other side, slid off the bed, patting over
to his bergan, at arm's reach. Produced a bottle of
single malt Highland whisky a moment later, his tin
mug, foil-wrapped bread and a large salami. The imported
kind, the proper stuff. He threw the food onto the grimy
bed and uncorked the whisky. Pouring a dram, he downed
it, head tipped back, body glistening with sweat and
muscles moving amidst shadows and sun through a dirty
window pane. Strength and recklessness.
watched, felt a stab of nauseous tension when Dan moved
too close to the window, came within hair's breadth
of making a sniper target. He'd take the punishment
for this, whatever they put into his file, whatever
they would do, probably take holidays he didn't have,
or reduce his pay that was never enough. The carrot
and stick game didn't work right now. Nor did his devotion
Dan grinned contentedly, "that's the real stuff."
He handed bottle and mug to Vadim before retreating
back to bergan, rag, and wash basin, cleaning himself
up. Getting back onto the bed a few moments later, ready
to tuck into the food. Despite his pent-up need he wasn't
sixteen anymore, but thirty-six.
checked on the sausage, the bread, slid his hand under
the pillow and drew the knife. No sinister purpose,
this time. Cut the bread and the salami, took in the
smells like this was the first food in ages. Judging
from what he normally called food, and from the stuff
they served up as chow, this was the first food in ages.
Nice, salty and greasy. He loved it. He kept the slices
on the foil, took the mug with greasy fingers and took
a swig, the burn smoother, less oily than vodka. Handed
mug and bottle back.
sure he licked his fingers every now and then as he
bread, booze. Simple men - simple pleasures. Yeah, right.
wasn't quite as fast as Vadim, not with the food anyway.
The whisky, though, another matter. That one taste and
memory of Scotland that was truly home. A life and time
that he could barely remember, and that had never been
his to keep.
promise me a simple thing?" Out of the blue when
they had finished, after a mouthful from the mug. Dan
seemed relaxed, leaning on is side.
back, savouring the taste, Vadim turned his head to
look at Dan. Oh, that body. The effect it had on him,
all the time, even when Dan wasn't there. Twelve months.
"Promise what?" Sometimes, that kind of thing
was about letters. Tell my girl I love her. Tell my
mother I didn't suffer. Almost painful. Letters. Words
that would hurt worse than the killing bullet.
Dan nodded, "if I'm unlucky, and if you find my
body, will you bury it? Some rocks would do, I can't
stand the thought of carrions. As if that mattered,
eh? I'd be fucking dead." Dan shrugged, tossed
a grin towards the other, made light of an entirely
far too heavy situation. He took the bottle once more,
washing down the taste of death and decay, chasing away
felt a shudder race over his skin. The thought of death
chilled him to the bone, like a premonition. For a moment
he saw himself stagger through enemy territory, looking
for something that had been Dan. Minefields, snipers,
fucking Hind hellfire. He might be able to track him.
He might be able to guess where he had gone, where he
had fallen. He had found the occasional pilot. But he
had had help. Finding a dead man in a country full of
dead people was more of a challenge.
send you home", he murmured. Stay alive, he thought.
Stay alive like you are now. I don't want to carry your
rotting body to fucking Kabul and hand myself in to
whatever bastard is your superior or handler there,
but it must be Kabul. I can't hand myself over. But
I will. Fuck you. He felt his face twitch, and turned
I have no home anymore." Dan's hand stopped Vadim
from turning over fully. Fingers digging into the muscular
thigh. "Not my brother's family. Nowhere to send
the body to. Forget it." Grip tightening while
he moved closer. Ignored the heat, the damned fan and
its monotonous creaking, pressed his body behind the
other. "You're as close to a fucking home as I
shuddered. He couldn't look at Dan now. He would see
that he was shaken, and the thought he was the man's
home appalled him. He thought of Moscow, the market,
the long, uniform street that had a uniform, grey building
with too little water pressure that took forever to
get warm in winter, thought of the shop where they queued
for all the fucking necessities of life. Socialist dream.
Cold, grey, barren, but people cared, huddled together
like birds in winter. Hoping for spring. Knowing that
spring would eventually come.
movements, groin against arse. Dan had been spent only
a short while ago, but death and decay, the whole bloodied
reality of his existence made him feel ten times more
reached for the lube, squeezed some into his hand, rubbed
it between his thighs, then reached to take Dan's cock,
placing it between his legs, tensing his thighs, and
pressing back against him.
would take longer, but Dan was ready when the hand closed
around his cock. Not thinking right now, just riding
the body, muscles and sinew, hard planes of sheer strength,
power and reassurance that he needed so much. His. Vadim
was his for now, tomorrow would come too soon.
pressed back against that body, fought the dread, the
nameless, unspeakable dread of death. To be afraid to
die was hard, it was a pressure on the shoulders that
grew with every day. But fearing that somebody else
might die was like an avalanche, and he had nothing
to protect himself. Fucking goat-herders had Allah,
but there was no God, not for him. Marx or Lenin had
not taught him how to see people die, people like Dan.
Or to not see him die, and that was worse. That was
the whole fucking Hindu Kush coming at him.
yet not enough, Dan's hands tightened once more, holding
the other's body. "No." He breathed into Vadim's
neck, "not enough." Wanted to turn him around,
didn't notice the Russian couldn't stand facing him.
obeyed for now, rubbed his face before he did face him.
Dan, dead. Fuck, no. He shuddered, aroused by Dan's
need, his own, even though it bordered desperation.
You won't die. Tell me you fucking will not die. Wordless
staring, lips pressed together.
didn't understand that thing, that difference; that
'something' in Vadim that was unlike his usual self.
Couldn't grasp the meaning but sensed the desperation,
fuelling his own. Moved forward, dug his teeth in slow-motion
into the muscle between shoulder and neck, the very
same place that bore the round scar on his own body.
This time it was Dan's hand that moved between their
bodies, firmly grasping their cocks.
lips opened at the delicious pain, which went right
through him, to his cock, his stomach. Hips went forward,
asking for the touch, head moved back as he could feel
the heat, the other cock, the hand, his fists clenched.
Good. One hand came up to press Dan's face against his
shoulder, almost asking for more of that, more pain,
more teeth. Moving against that hand, the other body,
tempted to roll on top.
he murmured. "I'm interested." A grin he didn't
course you are." Dan's hoarse whisper against Vadim's
skin, licking sweat and tasting flesh. Biting deeply,
sharply, tearing at skin when heat rose once again between
their bodies. Pushed the other down when he tried to
roll, wouldn't allow it. On their sides, had to be equal.
of cock against cock, held in a strong grip, heavy,
muscled bodies pushing and sliding, moving close, crushing
and wanting, taking, giving. Dan groaned before he bit
into the muscle once more, a wretched sound; desperate
to feel more of the body so much like his own.
fingers dug into Dan's hair, against his skull, his
eyes closed, nostrils flaring at the smell of his body,
the sweat, fresh and healthy, sane, and he groaned softly
into Dan's ear, winced with the pain, hoped, what insanity,
Dan would draw blood. Absolutely impossible to explain
a mark like that under the shower, fuck it, as if he
the hot flesh, the strong grip that drove him slowly
insane, too slowly, in fact, difficult to come, the
worst hunger sated, and left him with too much capacity
to feel. Pressing and grinding into that hand, holding
on to him with all his strength, didn't care whether
" Vadim groaned, louder, tried to be
quiet, like in the barracks, but that was fucking difficult
when he felt skinned alive and raw with emotion.
didn't know how violently he was biting. Just the absolute
closeness. Once upon a time he'd hated that body, smashed
it, kicked it, beat it into a bleeding pulp, but now
he wanted to crawl into it, or kill it and maim it,
to possess it, eat, tear, destroy it, to take it and
never leave it again.
The body was his, the man was his. His, his, his alone!
every muscle in his body tense as he came, a short,
violent tension in his body, Vadim felt overwhelming
gratitude and rightness and lots of other things he
couldn't have placed a name on. Coming into and against
that strong hand, the same hand that had broken his
nose. Whatever Dan decided to do with his strength,
it was always intense.
harder grip of Dan's hand, a more desperate motion and
he groaned into the bitten skin, "Mine!" He
was lost, rushed over the edge, coming in the combined
heat and friction that was every shred as all-encompassing,
as he had needed it to be.
held the head tight, heard sounds that made no sense,
but then a word. He wanted to rest, heavy as lead, vast
and calm like a mountain, but that word woke him up.
Made him restless. He thought of Katya, and the children.
The last place, the last situation on earth he would
have wanted these thoughts, and the only one where they
rolled over onto his back, took a handful of the grimy
blanket and wiped himself down. Peered at the man next
to him, pretending to be tired. Heavy-lidded glance.
heart beating, Dan felt bereft the moment Vadim rolled
over. Wham, bam, thank you squaddie. He snorted, but
didn't open his eyes, sprawled once more, half on his
stomach, half on his side, stickiness on grimy bed and
sweat-slick body. He had no idea what he had said, none.
Would deny any knowledge, wouldn't know.
lay in silence, breathing for a long while, never opening
his eyes, never moving a muscle. Felt like an eternity,
but he couldn't bring himself to do anything at all,
for every moment would take him further away, would
make it less likely to ever be touched again and to
feel what he felt right now: Vadim's body. The only
body he had ever truly touched.
He finally murmured, remembering the word, it only now
registered with him.
placed a hand on Dan's hand, liked the weight, size
and shape of it, the heat, the sweat. "Yes",
he murmured. "Look at your hands again. Well deserved
title." He kept his voice level, then turned his
head and looked at the Brit. That word still a ghost
in his mind. But then, he wasn't kidding himself, now,
was he? The way they sought each other. The way they
risked all this shit, revel in things only they could
understand - or would understand. No illusions there.
He smiled, then wiped his face on his elbow.
kittenpaw." Dan shook his head. "Kittenpaw
..." But he didn't move his hand away, just let
it rest where it wanted to. Raising a brow, a slow grin
started to spread across his face. "You cunt."
The way he said this word, how it had turned from bloodied
horror, cut into sunburnt skin, to a term of affection.
have to be gone before dawn." Dan added quietly.
be AWOL, Vadim thought. Nice, deep shit. Then again,
this stuff happened. Plenty of time to deal with whatever
disciplinary measures they came up with. He was hardly
a deserter. They'd think he might have gotten into a
fight (with an enemy that bit him in the shoulder?)
or a sweetheart (in a Muslim country where women lost
their honour too damn quickly).
me up before you go." So I can watch you leave.
nodded, grinned, but the grin faltered, scalding his
face. He moved at last, only to shuffle closer, until
his hand lay on Vadim's hip. Seemed lately that it had
become a favourite resting place for that 'kittenpaw'
of his. He would wake up in time, knew it, even though
he was absolutely shattered by now. Despite the heat
and the sweat, he fell asleep. Didn't quite realise
he was moving even closer. Not just a touch, but an
looked at Dan, felt him shuffle closer, like seeking
warmth. Only that there was too fucking much of it already
in the room. He looked at the relaxed face, the damp
hair, the arm across his stomach. Took too much fucking
space, the bastard. He turned onto his side, kept Dan's
arm in place, and pushed back up against him, resting
on an elbow, the other hand relaxed at his side, arm
touching that hand, holding it against his body.
both lost, comrade, he thought. We are in a war we don't
want to be in, we're both on the wrong side of it, and
all we get out of this is
He sighed. Enough to
keep me going.
was gone. True to his word he had woken Vadim then left,
no words, just a touch and a nod.
was gone. Nothing left. Except for an abandoned piece
stuffed-full bergan stood in the corner, the usual make
of standard olive sturdy fabric, with the addition of
PLCE webbing loosely wrapped around it, equally filled
to bursting. It looked fairly new, unlike most of the
equipment that was available in this shit hole these
days; personal or otherwise.
behind the backpack, barely visible, stood a pair of
boots. Brand new, dull leather that was begging for
a serious bulling to withstand the extremities of the
terrain. They weren't even standard Army issue, far
from it. Not the usual DMS combat highs, but Matterhorn
boots, the latest in advanced kit. They were fucking
expensive. And they were Vadim's perfect fit, two sizes
larger than Dan's.
had money, never mentioned it, it was of no consequence.
More money in his bank account back in Blighty than
he could ever spend. What would he spend it on? He felt
uncomfortable in Britain, Thatcher's new world and sheer
normality of civilisation were no longer a home for
PLCE pockets contained pain killers, two courses of
penicillin and a couple of broad spectrum antibiotics,
several different bandages and a tub of Vaseline. Some
of the others housed high quality kit like compass,
binoculars, flares, gloves.
the bergan were a rolled up insulation mat, the latest
invention which weighed almost nothing and kept the
freezing cold from the ground during nights in the mountains
- or anywhere else in this shit hole Afghanistan.
smaller, standard issue soap-bag, inside a couple of
tubes of toothpaste, the new convenient soft plastic
type, a double pack toothbrushes 'Made in Britain',
a large pack of Wilkinson Sword razor blades and a dozen
Bic throwaway ones. Squeezed in the bag was a can of
Gilette shaving foam and towards the bottom a couple
of bars of soap, one Shields and one Imperial Leather,
good quality choices for any bloke and not the crap
the Russians gave out as soap and which was fit only
to scrub the barracks floors. On the very bottom a substantial
pack of Durex condoms, in a gaudy packet that flaunted
a red sports car. Ironic, really, but they'd all heard
of 'the curse of the perverts' by now. Last but not
least a tube of water based lube: reading KY in clear-cut
large, black letters. None of that stuff available in
this hellish place, despite the huge scares coming over,
talks of AIDS and dying, of poofs and fucking queers
who were rotting in droves from that bloody disease
that was God's way of punishing the shit-stabbers.
so they said. Dan didn't give a fuck anymore.
side pockets of the bergan were stuffed with pre-packed
emergency rations and tinned chocolate, as well as a
large bottle of vitamins in one of the smaller pockets.
right next to the iso mat were half a dozen socks. Not
just ordinary ones, nothing that any army would ever
issue, but once again bloody expensive ones, developed
for mountaineers and available in the UK only in specialist
surplus shops. No expenses spared - those Coolmax socks
could mean the difference between torn and bleeding,
infection ravaged feet and ones with a lack of pain.
stashed amongst them, to prevent them from damage, two
smaller bottles with a brown liquid. No label, but Vadim
would know at the first sip that this was no moonshine.
It wasn't even cheap stuff, but Dan's favourite Highland
whisky, Balvenie. The one his Russkie already knew.
further down, on the very bottom of the bergan, hidden
between a rolled-up towel, a knife. Not just any knife.
A knife with a curved blade, designed to aid survival
in hostile terrain. Nothing like the crap that was being
issued to either army, even the special forces. It was
sturdy, deadly, as sharp as a razor blade and it would
stay so, no matter how often it'd cut. It lay heavy
and well balanced in one's hand, a tool so perfectly
crafted it was beautiful to behold. It was the same
that Dan was using; it was the best.
firearms, though. One thing to provide the kit to try
and keep an enemy from dying - another to help him to
kill one's own side. Dan did the one, but drew a line
on the other.
packed bergan and a pair of boots. 'Stay alive, Russkie'.
one soldier to another.