was one of the Tadjik soldiers, Spetznaz, who found
him, and called out in Tadjik: "Turkey."
signalled the man to his left and began to run toward
the Tadjik's position, who emerged from one of the houses
from the village. Saturday afternoon, firefight. This
time, not a fucking exercise. He passed the Tadjik,
and came face to face with yet another mercenary.
body was squirming with pain, breathing ragged, Vadim
checked him for weapons first, took the pistol, the
rifle - an AK, he thought with a little bitterness -
was already gone. Took the hand grenades and tossed
man was lying on his back, legs open, one arm clutching
his chest, wet with blood. He wore a ragtag collection
of gear - the camo pattern was part American, part British,
the pistol Swiss or German. Of course he wouldn't wear
anything like regular kit. His face was covered with
a rag like special forces everywhere wore it, his had
a white and dark grey pattern.
pulled his own rag down, like he'd honour an opponent
with the wiremesh mask, before he pulled the other's
down. Hands shaking. Dan? But Dan never wore military
gear. Dan blended in.
bubbled from the other's lips, too red in a bluish pale
face; the man was European, short, ash blonde hair,
crusted with dust and sweat, greenish-brown eyes. Lines
in his face exaggerated by the dust and dirt.
wound. Vadim reached for the arm and forced it away.
A mess of blood. Impossible to say, but it looked bad.
Even without the panicking, choking breaths. He took
the fabric of the tunic with both hands and ripped it
open, then, amidst all the blood, saw at least five
holes in the man's heaving chest alone.
dying", he said in Tadjik.
other Spetsnaz nodded. "Take him to the Major?"
Major would want at least to try and get this man alive.
Vadim called the medic over, none of the crosstrained
others would do, and Dima began to work right away,
to try and stabilise him.
was no kindness in this. If they could take this man
prisoner, alive, and interrogate him, he'd be the best
source of information they could hope for. He didn't
believe that this Westerner was some soldier of fortune.
This area was too interesting for too many forces. After
all, Dan was here.
others scoured the village, checked for more rebels,
dead or alive, but this was the only survivor they could
find, and even that was debatable. Vadim helped Dima,
listened to the man's assessment of the situation, the
medic kept speaking to himself, his voice low and monotonous,
to stay focused and keep the unit informed.
turkey's eyes tried to make contact, fixed on Dima,
hands clutching at the ground, just reflexes, motions
of fear, not of any reasoning, fingers found the cloth
of Dima's trousers near his knee, but the medic kept
speaking in a murmur, and Vadim wondered whether he
should take that hand and press it. Fear of death; that
man wasn't worried about being taken prisoner. He was
in too much pain to worry about consequences, he probably
only wanted to live.
the enemy. Calm him? How? Vadim's instinct told him
to shoot him in the head and end the suffering and those
horrible breaths. The turkey tried to speak, gargling
noises from his throat and motions from lips and tongue,
but no words anybody could understand. He might be begging
for his mother. A different instinct wanted to make
Vadim speak the words. Don't worry. All will be well.
Death was only nothingness. Absence of anything, memory,
self, but most of all, pain. He stared at the man and
followed Dima's orders, and wanted it to end.
the other stopped moving, and Dima glanced up. "That's
it. I lost him." Vadim wondered why Dima didn't
try to get the other's heart going again, but then,
this wasn't Moscow. Keeping him going for ten minutes
or half an hour, fine, but not the hours it would take
them to get back with the helicopter. And even then
... very unlikely. Dima seemed to wait for an order
there, but Vadim shook his head. "Was worth a try."
began to clean up, disattached the stuff he'd been pouring
into him, washed his hands, then stepped outside to
glanced at the dead man, pale features, European face.
Another man sent half the world just to die. The killing
shots had come from a window, neat holes, one right
next to the other, too many of them for a human body.
"This is not your fucking war", hissed Vadim,
and pushed the man's shoulder. "Fuck you."
He stood, anger rising.
eyes fell on the boots, saw metal blink. He crouched
again, curiously, saw what the laces held in place.
British dog-tags, no rank, nothing but a name. And what
looked like a phone number. He untied the laces, pulled
the tag loose, and placed it in one of his pockets,
then searched the corpse. More of those metal tags.
Clearly, this man had wanted to make sure his various
bits would be found and could be traced - too much experience
with mine fields or RPGs.
that meant, one of the tags missing wouldn't make a
difference to the Major.
at the beginning of the year, when winter was still
so fucking cold, his cock would have frozen off if he
had dared stick it out of the many layers of clothing,
Dan had been to the tea house one last time, before
leaving for the mountains. He'd talked to the owner,
left some dollars and a verbal message, never committing
anything onto paper. Paranoia helped his survival.
be back in Kabul in the spring, around March, possibly
weeks in the mountains had been hard, but he was used
to cold, heat, danger, hunger and destitution. It was
his job, and the payback was worth it. Not just the
money, an acceptable salary with several different bonuses,
but the mountains. Forever the majestic vastness, and
at the end of it all, if he returned, the hope to meet
an enemy whom he'd never see again if he weren't doing
the fucked-up suicidal job in Afghanistan. An enemy
who was occupying more time in his mind than hunger,
thirst, or the damned itching of fleas and nits. Every
night. Every day. Every hour when he was not fighting
gave a wry smirk as he headed to the tea house; he had
left his message weeks ago. That he'd be here every
Tuesday, after duty, for a few hours. Asked the owner
whether he'd heard anything from the other foreigner,
but there was nothing but a headshake, and something
like "Allah be willing."
had nothing to do with it. From what he knew, they stoned
bribed the tea house owner to not tell anybody about
his message, or him being here, then proceeded to have
his tea. Luxury, the carpets, cushions. After being
holed up for too long, too many patrols with too many
clashes and bullets whizzing past his ear - Kabul seemed
a rare haven of civility.
ate nuts with his tea, and ordered naan and meat, the
scorching hot mutton they served in these parts. Chewy,
but protein, and his body didn't mind the grease and
the vast amounts of chillies that could have masked
tea house owner gave him a patchy grin, encouraged him
to eat, and they were laughing when he downed the hot
tea and his eyes almost ran with the spiciness of the
stuff. "Good, eh, good?" They asked in pulverized
had he turned into part of their entertainment? He hadn't
bribed them that much. He nodded, pulled his lips back
from the heat, and chewed, hungry for anything that
wasn't army ration.
wasn't aware of the man who was watching him, that dark-eyed
gaze not intent enough to make him uncomfortable. Just
a man, close, sitting in the shadows, a rag wound around
part of his face, and his grin hidden. Three months,
it had been a while, but the Russkie never seemed to
was watching and thinking back. They'd been lucky in
autumn, meeting almost every week or fortnight, and
he had grown accustomed to the presence of that man.
And to the sex, always that. Lust was a powerful incentive.
But the winter had been long and far too hard. He felt
tired and exhausted. Only thirty-four and the extreme
conditions were taking their toll on his body already.
the last of his tea, Dan pulled the long native coat
to the side, fishing in his pockets and left a handful
of coins on the table. He stood up in a fluid motion,
moving the rag away from his face simultaneously. Shaking
his head until the too-long hair sprang free. His usual
mane of wild curls and uncut glory. Feast for vermin,
but he was free from the bastards right now. Water,
soap, and poison. The only thing missing for a proper
'Welcome Back to Kabul' was the re-acquaintance with
a certain enemy of his.
a couple of steps towards Vadim's table, Dan grinned,
the rag only partly obscuring his features.
glanced up. There was no mistaking. He'd known that
body in almost all guises, all states, in any place
and at any time. He gave a grin. "Fancy some meat?"
He asked, with a wink, and offered the place opposite,
licking the fat and spices from two of his long fingers.
laughed, damn, it had been a long time and he had spent
it in far too much hardship and in the wrong company.
Sitting down, he pulled the rest of the fabric off his
face. "Been a while since I had some decent meat."
Raised his brows in a suggestive manner, and smirked.
"I see you've gone native." Indicating the
leftovers of the naan.
Since when does meat speak fucking Pushtu?" Vadim
gave a roguish grin. "That old goat or whatever
it was, mutton, whatever, is just food." The grin
widened. "And, I like naan. Half continent eats
naan. Nothing Afghan about it." He motioned to
the tea house owner, ordering "more of this",
in Pushtu. "Good you're in one piece." In
Dan grinned and nodded, "I'm in one piece, got
only one new scar, and as usual, just about made it."
Changed into Russian, fluently, "Fucking cold out
there, but what would you know about it, you and your
cosy little garrison life." He smirked, slouched
on his cushion, long legs stretched out. They both knew
there was nothing cosy about either of their lives.
fat and lazy old me", commented Vadim. "Got
your message yesterday. No time to warn our little friend
here." Indicated with his chin over to the tea
house owner, who was busying himself, but lifting his
head to smile brightly at Dan.
to see you seem intact as well." Dan leaned forward
with a mock frown, "or did they make you a eunuch
in the meantime?"
shook his head. "All still there." He looked
up as one of the waiters showed up with an even bigger
portion of meat and naan for Dan. Seemed that they liked
Dan better than him. Who could begrudge them that. They
probably made more money out of him.
thanked the young lad in Pushtu, received the usual
smiles and nods, waved at the owner, before turning
his attention to the meat. Loved spicy food.
on." Vadim urged, "You'll need strength."
what?" Dan took a piece of meat with his right,
ducking meat and bread into the hot sauce. Food couldn't
be burning enough, it brought life and heat back into
his bones. "Any plans for needing my strength later?"
Chewing while waggling his brows, grinning.
If you're interested in expending that strength?"
Relaxed banter, while Vadim dug for the metal tag. Pondered
showing it now, or later. At least it was still there.
"I'll have to show you something."
Dan had his mouth full, could hardly speak. Eyes watering,
but hell, this was proper food, not the shit he had
eaten over the last three months. His goat-herders did
their best, but the insurgents' fare was distinctly
lacking in catering qualities. He'd lost weight, as
he always did when out there for any lengths of time.
"What you got to show me? Unless you got yourself
some weird-ass tattoo, there's nothing I don't know
on our body."
laughed. "That one tattoo was drunken mistake.
I've grown out of that one. No. Something more serious."
He dug out the tag and put it on the table, near the
big bowl - this way, none of the Afghans could see it.
stopped chewing, stared at the tag before placing his
hand over it. "Fuck." Forgot to swallow, lifted
his fingers, read the name again. Said nothing, just
let his fingers rest on the metal. Swallowed at last,
took a deep breath. John. Old mate from yonks ago. Fuck.
watched him, and had that sinking feeling in his stomach
that this just had ruined the chance for sex. Next time,
he should wait with bad news. Stupid bastard. And chided
himself for that thought. Shit. Dan had lost somebody
he'd known, and he thought about sex.
?" Dan asked. Not that it mattered, and
yet it did.
It happened on my left flank. He took cover in building,
got sprayed with bullets. One of scouts found him. Medic
tried to stabilize him, but he had seven bullets in
his body. Died under Dima's hands. Hopeless. Heart just
stopped. Didn't die as prisoner. Just died. Was fairly
quick." And he was scared and hurting and stared
at us as if we could help him. Soviets trying to patch
the holes so they could take him prisoner. How fucking
nodded, picked up the tag and closed his fist around
it while lifting his head to look at the other. He didn't
doubt Vadim's story. Not for a second. Why should he
lie, and even if he'd killed him, that was life, and
death, their jobs, and this fucking war. It could have
been him, but it wasn't. He was alive, and that felt
damned good. "I'll see that his ex-wife and his
kid get the info."
Wife. Children. Vadim's jaw muscles worked, chewing
on that information like on a bar of steel.
Dan knew him. Knew John. Knew many. It was their job
and he'd just been reminded that death was their shoulder
companion. Slipping the tag securely into the buttoned
pocket of his shirt. "Thanks." He meant it.
nodded. "He went fast", he repeated, uselessly.
"We have other tags. We assume he was just mercenary.
We won't be able to confirm his identity." Shaking
his head, he glanced at his hands, put the last bit
of naan down. "Well. He had about fifty tags on
him, so that one went missing on way to base. We buried
nodded again, hand hovering over his plate. Couldn't
quite recover his appetite. "That could have been
me. Same job." Implicit-explicitly admitting to
his trust. Knew he shouldn't tell the Russkie, but somehow
felt the need to let him know that Sergeant John Archer,
nicknamed 'Stubbs', had been more than a mercenary.
nodded. "That was what I thought." Hands shaking
when unmasking the enemy. Dan. Shit. Too close for comfort.
tell my contacts to let his family know he got a decent
burial." Tilting his head, he took in a deep breath.
"Where? Just in case this war is ever over. Relatives
want to know and see strange things sometimes. Much
better not to have too many and keep it in the family.
No one to miss you, then." He grimaced, meant himself,
but in too many ways also the other. His opposite.
nodded. "Have map?"
but not with me. It's in my bergan, back in a room I
got." Dan lifted his head and looked straight at
the other. Room. Three months. Need.
glanced up. Knew what it meant. Was glad, and felt still
strange. Maybe this time, he would take Dan's mind off
dead. I'm alive." Dan picked up the naan, grease
and spices running over his fingers when he bit into
the meat and bread, chewing, eyes fixed on Vadim. "Come?"
yeah." Vadim grinned, realized he had quoted Dan,
and gave a laugh. "Finish that food, I have three,
ah, four hours."
flashed a grin, chewed faster. "I better hurry,
eh? It's been a while."
to his word, he finished the naan and meat in record
time, licking his fingers before downing the strong,
sweet tea. It was strange, he felt more alive than before
he'd heard about Stubbs' death. As if the dog tag in
his pocket reminded him that he had made it. Not unblemished,
but alive, and that was all that counted.
room's in the Western district." Dan stood up,
waited for all the bills to be settled. Vadim paid the
rest, put in some extra money, couldn't hurt to keep
these folks on his side - never had.
didn't say anything else, just turned and expected the
other to follow. Winding the rag around his head once
more, he would blend into the crowd, just another native,
with nameless dark eyes and nameless dark face and hair.
followed, one of many Soviet soldiers on some errand
or other. Safety. Yes. Would be nice. Would be even
nicer if they had more time.
stopped in front of a building that seemed to be somewhat
different to most others. A sign above the door, declaring
rooms for rent. Dan grinned beneath the rag, nodded
quickly to the 'Soviet soldier' who was following him,
before slipping through the door. He was taking his
time going up the rickety stairs. Up and up he went,
level after level, higher than most of the buildings
in Kabul, until he got to the upper landing. Dirty floor,
shabby door, but it had a lock. Producing the key and
fiddling for a moment, he swung the door wide open.
stepped inside, unwinding the rag from his head once
more. "Welcome to the Hilton." Making a sweeping
gesture before dropping the rag and opening his coat
while grinning. It was a room. A real room, albeit grubby,
cheap and rather nasty, but fuck, it had a chair. A
window. A sink which might even have running water.
But most importantly, a bed. A large double bed with
a real mattress, real pillows, real bedding. Fairly
dirty, but what the fuck did it matter.
followed, not expecting traps or ambushes, just didn't,
made sure they were safe from others, but turned his
back easily on Dan these days. Glancing around. "Hilton
follow some guy to his hotel room. The small thought
was amusing, and he gave a laugh. "For once, you
won't press me into some stones that I can feel it for
days." Took the beret off and tossed it on the
chair. "Does water work?"
this morning." Dan grinned, shrugged the coat off
and let it drop onto the floor. His shirt and belt followed
quickly. "I trust the owner. As far as I'd trust
anyone here, that includes the tea house owner."
And you, Vadim, but you I trust in other ways, and yet
never in some.
you have knife to his balls", murmured Vadim with
humour. Wouldn't it be ironic if the guy sold his head
to the Mujas wholesale, and they'd come and pick him
up when he was in bed with Dan? Hilarious.
just say the owner of this place here has some things
to hide that don't fit well into the Shariah."
Dan smirked and made a lewd gesture, rubbing his crotch.
"Males and females, whatever you like, but I told
him I won't require those services. I have my own cunt."
Vadim glanced around again. "Well, that means nobody
worries about who comes and who goes. As long as we're
not nailing their women. Or their sons." Vadim
opened the belt, the tunic, slipped out of it, shirt,
undershirt. He was smooth and shaved, only things on
his upper body his tags and his watch.
sat down on the bed to untie his boots, working quickly
to get the kit off, socks, too, then placed his hands
on the buttons of his trousers, glancing at Dan who
was just about to step out of his boots. "Anything
glanced up, still bent down, head roughly on crotch
level. "That depends on how quickly you want to
finish. As I said. Been a while. I want the whole hog.
All four hours." Straightening up.
grinned and hooked his fingers into Dan's belt lashes,
pulling him close enough to press his face into Dan's
groin. "Whole hog sounds good." Breathing
against the other's groin, lips opening to trace the
line of cock through the fabric.
" Dan hummed, as if pondering the right course
of action while his breathing pattern was already shifting
towards the erratic. Undressed, both of them, except
for their trousers. Running his hands over the other's
neck, down the back. "Has anyone told you lately
that you feel like a girl?" He grinned, moved his
hips, pressing his groin into Vadim's face. His cock
reacted in seconds flat. "The skin, that is. Can't
say I met many birds with your kind of muscles."
called a girl was oddly better than being called
cunt, and Vadim almost laughed at the thought.
Pride of the Soviet army, indeed. "See, not all
Russians are hairy bears."
I figured that, but I bet in a moment you'll tell me
that I'm one."
with you is wrong", said Vadim. "What is your
national animal? Bulldog?" Vadim opened Dan's trousers,
commando indeed, rubbed his face against the other's
cock, heard him take in a sharp breath. "Ah, but
that would mean you're not homosexualist", murmured
Vadim. "If you think of girls ..." Teasing.
you fucking insane?" Dan's hands came to rest on
the other's shoulders, steadying himself. "But
there were some things about them that I liked. Smooth
skin is one of them."
his hips slowly, Dan's eyes half-closed, simply enjoying
the feel of the other's face against his cock. Hard,
just as expected.
I guess they usually smell better." Vadim kissed
the inner thigh, felt a tendon there tense as Dan shifted
by the way
" Dan's voice had turned husky,
"it's 'homosexual', not 'homosexualist', but I
means joyful." Vadim looked up. "Neither of
us is that. Joyful. I prefer homosexual. Homo means
same. That is something we are."
stilled, looked into those pale eyes, the colour still
amazed him. "But I am. Joyful. Sometimes."
enough. Precious little joy in war."
shook his head. "When you cum, what do you feel?
Tension. Release. Ecstasy? I feel a glimpse of what
could be called joy, as well."
grinned, nuzzling the cock, hands running down Dan's
flanks, a slow, lazy caress, until he hooked his fingers
into the trousers and pulled them down. "Not sure
which English word is good for that ... peace? I am
myself, and nobody, just feeling. I don't care."
He moved closer again, kissing the hard, smooth plane
over Dan's groin, almost reluctant to start, then chided
himself and opened his lips to take in Dan's cock. It
didn't matter. They were both alive, both here, and
they had a little time.
Dan stopped Vadim with a hand on his head. Feeling the
short hair beneath his calloused palm. "I'd come
within seconds." Wry grin, a flick of his hand
against the top of Vadim's head. "I want to make
the most of that skin of yours. Seems a luxury after
the long winter." Grin turning into bared teeth
and dark eyes, alive and alight.
glanced up, clearly surprised, licking his lips quickly
in a rare moment of ... something. Didn't have a word
for it, could hardly understand it. Self-conscious didn't
quite nail it. "Okay. What will it be?" He
grinned; he was about to fuck in a brothel, and that
seemed to rub off on him.
lie down." Dan pointed at the bed. "I feel
like savouring this. Got so fucking cold this winter,
some times all I could do was think of the heat of your
body, of being inside you, to keep myself from just
falling asleep and freezing to fucking death."
me. Vadim shuddered, did what he was told, moved
onto the bed and laid down, flat on his back, one arm
under his neck, chest tensing lightly. Showing off the
lines, there. He'd had some time for weights and push-ups
and the usual exercise and he gained the satisfying
response of an impressed Dan.
brow raised, regarding the body for a moment, Dan's
grin turned self-conscious for a moment, before ploughing
on. Wondering if he sounded like a bloody poof, discarded
that thought in an instant. "Consider yourself
the dish and I'm the temperature gauge."
that thing you put up goose's ass?" Vadim enquired,
suddenly laughing again.
Dan smirked, did a side-jump onto the bed so that it
shook and squeaked, threatening to break down. The mattress
continued to wobble on worn-through rickety springs
like the Titanic tittering around its ice berg, when
Dan scrambled onto his knees, straddling the other.
you're really good I'll see what'll get up this goose's
arse." Planting is hands right and left of Vadim's
shoulders, Dan lowered his head, smirking. "But
before that, let's test how smooth you really
Brit just didn't make any sense there. But Vadim liked
him like this, strangely open.
of the preliminaries, Dan felt he had been talking more
than a chat show host intent on wooing his guests, he
decided to woo a nipple instead. Pale brown, small,
almost negligent amongst its plane of pale, smooth skin
stretched across a taut pectoral muscle. Teeth, lips
and tongue, working their way around and across, flicking,
teasing and testing, until he chuckled and moved to
the other. Bites, licks. Never quite kisses across and
upon the Russian's body.
softly cursed, chest tensing, hands reaching for the
other who ... made him squirm like that. Every touch
on his nipples was directly connected to his groin,
and he was breathing hard and groaning before he could
remember that he usually tried to make no sound. Loved
it, even if it made him desperate. "You ... bastard
..." he murmured.
lifted his head a mere fraction. "I resemble that
remark." His lips curved into a grin, before turning
his attention back onto the hardened nipples, swollen
and damp from his attention. Surprised at the reaction,
hadn't expected a man to get much out of this. Like
him, who figured it was nice, but nothing special, yet
his bimbo-birds had writhed around and squealed while
he'd been working on their tits.
Pecs. The latter was infinitely better.
his way downward, teeth, tongue, lips, touches hard
then soft, but never never quite a kiss, instead tasting
skin and licking, biting, suckling. Moving down the
body, sensation of rope-like abs beneath the silken-smooth
skin. Laving the groin, hairless, spotless, smooth,
damn, smoother than any of his girls had ever been,
and that cock. His prize. Cliché be fucked, but
it was what he wanted and would want forever more.
opened his legs, cock almost flat on his stomach, hard,
twitching when Dan moved closer, tension building up,
then breathing again when Dan left there, cursing softly
in Russian. How to force more, now? Short of grabbing
him and flinging him onto the mattress, and it felt
too damn nice to do that.
was moving back up, along ribs and onto pecs once more,
playing with sensitive flesh, before travelling towards
one shoulder, and then the other. Teeth-lips making
their progress across the neck, sucking the spot of
his cigarette burn, which made Vadim groan loudly, before
his tongue dipped along bones and muscles; dips and
was taking his time to map the terrain of the Russkie's
body, saw hands digging into the mattress, before one
found its way up to the head of the bed, arm tensing
as if Vadim were trying to pull himself up.
knew he didn't look very dignified now, but he didn't
want it to stop, and was more than ready for anything
that would happen, had been ready ages ago.
lifted his head once more, almost on eye level. His
own body touching all the way along the other. Groin
connected to groin, cocks meeting, chests acquainting.
do you want." Murmured. He was goddamned horny
by now, but a fuck just didn't seem quite enough.
groaned, lips open, breathing, needing, struggling to
regain a little control, but couldn't care, somehow,
he just didn't. "Anything", he said, in Russian.
"Whatever ..." Moving his hips up to get friction
against that body, stupid mattress was too soft, really,
forcing a hand between their bodies, wrapping his hand
around Dan's cock. "Move." Just wanted to
feel the other's strength, wanted to have all that skin
on skin, feel the weight, even fucking hold him.
nodded, no words. Friction, heat and strength. Pushed
down onto that body that was stealing his senses and
robbing his mind of anything but the imprint of muscles,
skin, and hardened flesh. Moved, forcing his hips down,
cock against cock, his own held by a relentless grip.
Needed his hands to support himself, but ground and
pounded, pushed and slid, moved his body so viciously,
he was fucking the other's cock with his own, hand or
not. This would take longer, wanted it to last, last
forever, if only it could.
groaned, felt the bed move beneath, the headboard tapping
the wall with each of Dan's movements, pressure building,
releasing the head of the bed and digging his fingers
into Dan's back, slippery with sweat, pulsing with muscle
and strength, and he thought alive, we're just alive,
fuck everything else. Getting close, muscles coiling
to build up the pressure, could feel sweat, smell it,
feel it tickle down his temple. Dan on top. A perfect
sight, especially his shoulders and collar bones, working,
shifting, holding the weight and moving it, just need,
no control, chest glistening. Vadim came against him,
with Dan following close behind, moment of weight, tension,
crushing strength, held in check by resisting strength.
came, collapsed. Gave up strength. Tension, control
altogether. Just let himself fall down onto the other's
body, sweat-slicked and wet with cum between them, skin
on skin. He was breathing hard, heart pounding, face
nestled in the crook of the other's neck.
Vadim relaxed, and wiped his face with his arm, then
tried to look at Dan's face. Silent.
silence stretched, felt like forever. Sweat cooling
on Dan's skin, his heartbeat slowing back down and thudding
slowly, lazily, utterly relaxed. Finally murmured, "You'd
think the Hilton has room service."
gave a dry laugh. Brothel with room service? Do the
gentlemen wish to clean up? Maybe strawberries and whipped
cream? Would this champagne do? "Maybe one day",
he murmured. That would be the day when the country
was rebuilt and the same system of wash-my-hand-I-wash-yours
was installed here, with party members jockeying for
boons like time in luxury hotels, or what passed as
such. He'd seen Montreal. He knew just how far the Soviet
Union lagged behind. But when Afghanistan was like that,
there was no room for Dan. First of all, Dan's side
would have been defeated, and he was pulled out.
his head, Dan grinned lazily, like a cat stretching
in the sun. His whole body moving slowly, undulating
on top of the other before relaxing once more. "One
day, aye. Once you are out of this shit. It's not going
to last forever, this communism malarkey. It can't.
It simply doesn't work." He chuckled lightly, eyes
closing. Should really move off that body, but hell,
he was spent.
'socialism'", corrected Vadim. "Communism
is idea, socialism is way there." He looked at
Dan. "You think there's world war three? Nuclear
fire? All gone, Shakespeare, and Pushkin, both gone?
And we fight like cavemen, with stones?"
huffed, pushed himself up on his elbow, ready to roll
off the other, because really, he shouldn't be lying
on the Russkie and anyway, what a goddamned faggoty
thing to do and ... he still couldn't be arsed right
Looking down at Vadim's face, Dan flashed a lopsided
grin. "I don't believe there'll be a World War
Three. Certainly not between you lot and us. We're not
stupid. I don't think you are, either. But ..."
he trailed off, shifted his weight before finally rolling
off the other and ending on his side, head propped up
on an elbow. "We'll just keep practising for all
eventualities. Always prepared, as they say."
thought about it. "You need to understand
we are armed to teeth to protect people. You on island,
you are safe. Russia has been invaded again and again.
Americans don't know what this feels like - maybe Indians,
that lived there to see invasion and slaughter happen."
huffed at the other's idea of Britain being safe, while
Vadim shrugged, continued. "System's not ideal,
" His jaw muscles tensed for a long moment.
"I dread what comes after. There is talk of reform.
It's not Stalin. We might yet
put it on right
the fuck are you going to turn things round, change
a whole country? You're too big. Soviet Union, huge
territory and all that." Dan let his arm fall down
on his hip. "Look at us, Britain and Northern Ireland,
what a fucking mess we've made of it. I had mates being
blown to pieces over there." Chewing his lower
lip, Dan grimaced. "That whole Muja shit here in
this bloody shithole, it all reminds me too much of
other stuff. It's the same, everywhere, and when it
comes down to it, your vast nation will fail, too."
nodded. Accepted that it looked unlikely they'd win,
unless they waited it out. And Dan was among the people
who took that leisurely planned time away. The last
plan he'd seen? Ten years. Thirty. Forever. Just to
make a point, one point: We are not weak. We won't let
brother socialists fall. A show of strength, pointless.
There was nothing to get from here. No riches. No industry,
no intellectual, no rich soil. Afghanistan wasn't Eastern
block Germany, not even Poland. "Ah, but we have
long memories. Your people is old, too. Long culture.
Lots of history. All we need is time, and things will
change. It's my duty to keep watch so they can make
journey safe. Even if it's my children's grandchildren.
The steppe is wide, Dan. Teaches you patience. Just
like those mountains." He smiled. "And I like
laughed, a short, abortive sound. "Can't claim
I understood what you said, but I agree with two things:
the steppe is wide - even though I've never been there,
and the mountains, fuck, yes, the mountains are a thing
for themselves. They eat you up, swallow you whole,
digest and churn around until their loneliness spits
you back out again and you think that nothing else matters.
Just them, and that tiny handful of life that's your
own. Fucking insignificant. Nothing, no one, barely
remembered, except perhaps for a moment of recognition
in a goddamned teahouse." He shut up, suddenly,
had said too much.
flashed a smile. "You're my favourite enemy, too.
Fucking messy Brit." He reached over to the pile
of clothes, half-turning, angled for the rag to wipe
his abs and stomach clean.
Dan shut up before he said any more. Blinked once, twice,
wondered how he'd gained that kind of answer. Favourite
enemy. Swallowed, deflected his confusion. "Give
me the rag. I'm sticky. As far as I can make out we
got another two to three hours, aye?"
dropped the rag between them. Not that there was much
space, but he didn't want to clutch the other's hand
and make him promise he'd come out of the fucking mountains
alive. Then, suddenly, the irony of it all hit him.
John. The dead man. Vanya. Ivan was Russian for John.
Same name. "Oh fuck", he muttered, shaking
his head. "Yeah." He checked the Volkov. "Two
and a half what?" Dan had already forgotten his
initial question, wiping himself down while peering
at the other and his strange outburst.
days, not weeks." Vadim grinned. "But not
Dan groaned, feeling like a right idiot, and so he should.
Grinned. "I'll get my own back for that."
He stretched, threw the rag behind him. "You up
to another round in a while?"
stretched out, took the headboard with both hands, and
tensed his muscles as he rattled against it. The bed
failed to collapse. "Looks like it." He was
thirsty, but too damn sluggish to move, and he liked
lying there, not many cares in the world, and sure as
fuck no responsibilities right now.
Dan flashed a grin, teeth, lips, grimace and all. "I'll
even slip a dollar or two down your crack."
Vadim raised a couple fingers in warning, but grinned.
"Guess you pay by night, not by hour?"
smirked, "hourly." Glancing at his bergan,
he sat up. "I got water, energy bars, need some
food, before you should get back to your duties, Russkie."
He laughed, another short sound.
still haven't tested the temperature of that goose of
mine, and I've been jerking off so often to the memory
of fucking your arse, it's time to refresh it."
Duties. Taking it up the arse. If only all his duties
were that enjoyable, he wouldn't even think about the
war anymore, just taking it in stride, Vadim thought
and watched Dan stand, grab the bergan, throwing it
onto the bed between them.