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Special Forces Chapter IX: Mercy

March 1983, Kabul

It was one of the Tadjik soldiers, Spetznaz, who found him, and called out in Tadjik: "Turkey."

Vadim 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.

The 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 them away.

The 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.

Vadim 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.

Blood 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.

Chest 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.

"He's dying", he said in Tadjik.

The other Spetsnaz nodded. "Take him to the Major?"

The 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.

There 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Console 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.

Eventually, 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."

Dima began to clean up, disattached the stuff he'd been pouring into him, washed his hands, then stepped outside to smoke.

Vadim 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.

His 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.

And that meant, one of the tags missing wouldn't make a difference to the Major.

* * *

Back 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.

He'd be back in Kabul in the spring, around March, possibly April.

The 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 or surviving.

* * *

Vadim 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."

Allah had nothing to do with it. From what he knew, they stoned homosexuals.

Vadim 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.

Vadim 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 any taste.

The 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 Russian.

When 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.

Vadim 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 change.

Dan 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.

Downing 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.

Taking a couple of steps towards Vadim's table, Dan grinned, the rag only partly obscuring his features.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

"Native? 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 English.

"Aye," 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.

"Yeah, 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.

"Good to see you seem intact as well." Dan leaned forward with a mock frown, "or did they make you a eunuch in the meantime?"

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

"Come on." Vadim urged, "You'll need strength."

"For 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.

"Maybe. 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."

"Hm?" 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."

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

"Did you …?" Dan asked. Not that it mattered, and yet it did.

"No. 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 grim.

Dan 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."

Confirmation. Wife. Children. Vadim's jaw muscles worked, chewing on that information like on a bar of steel.

Yes, 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.

Vadim 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 him."

Dan 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.

Vadim nodded. "That was what I thought." Hands shaking when unmasking the enemy. Dan. Shit. Too close for comfort.

"I'll 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.

Vadim nodded. "Have map?"

"Aye, 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.

Vadim glanced up. Knew what it meant. Was glad, and felt still strange. Maybe this time, he would take Dan's mind off dying.

"John's 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?"

"Hell, yeah." Vadim grinned, realized he had quoted Dan, and gave a laugh. "Finish that food, I have three, ah, four hours."

Dan flashed a grin, chewed faster. "I better hurry, eh? It's been a while."

True 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.

"The 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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 indeed."

Ah, 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?"

"Did 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.

"Hope 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.

"Let's 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."

"Brothel?" 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.

He 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 you want?"

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

"Hmmm …" 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."

Being 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."

"No, I figured that, but I bet in a moment you'll tell me that I'm one."

"Bear 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. "Do you?"

"Are 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."

Moving his hips slowly, Dan's eyes half-closed, simply enjoying the feel of the other's face against his cock. Hard, just as expected.

"Yes, I guess they usually smell better." Vadim kissed the inner thigh, felt a tendon there tense as Dan shifted his weight.

"And by the way …" Dan's voice had turned husky, "it's 'homosexual', not 'homosexualist', but I prefer 'gay'."

"Gay means joyful." Vadim looked up. "Neither of us is that. Joyful. I prefer homosexual. Homo means same. That is something we are."

Dan stilled, looked into those pale eyes, the colour still amazed him. "But I am. Joyful. Sometimes."

"Not enough. Precious little joy in war."

Dan 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."

Vadim 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.

"No." 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.

Vadim 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.

"Just 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."

Inside 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.

One 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."

"Is that thing you put up goose's ass?" Vadim enquired, suddenly laughing again.

"Later." 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.

"If 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 are."

The Brit just didn't make any sense there. But Vadim liked him like this, strangely open.

Enough 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Tits. Pecs. The latter was infinitely better.

Making 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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 hollows.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

"What do you want." Murmured. He was goddamned horny by now, but a fuck just didn't seem quite enough.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Slowly, Vadim relaxed, and wiped his face with his arm, then tried to look at Dan's face. Silent.

The 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."

Vadim 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.

Moving 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.

"Term's '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?"

Dan 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 now.

"No." 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."

Vadim 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."

Dan huffed at the other's idea of Britain being safe, while Vadim shrugged, continued. "System's not ideal, but …" 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 course."

"How 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."

Vadim 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 competitions."

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

"Well." 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?"

Vadim 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 half."

"Two and a half what?" Dan had already forgotten his initial question, wiping himself down while peering at the other and his strange outburst.

"Not days, not weeks." Vadim grinned. "But not minutes, either."

"Oh." 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?"

Vadim 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.

"Good." Dan flashed a grin, teeth, lips, grimace and all. "I'll even slip a dollar or two down your crack."

"Careful." Vadim raised a couple fingers in warning, but grinned. "Guess you pay by night, not by hour?"

Dan 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.

"Duties, like …?"

"I 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."

Oh. 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.

"Help yourself."

Favourite enemy indeed.

Special Forces Chapter X: Down and Out
Warning for Readers

The following work of fiction contains graphic homosexual interaction, violence and non-consensual sex. With this work of fiction the authors do not condone in any way any form of intolerance and injustice, e.g. racism, sexual harassment, incitement of hatred, religious hatred nor persecution, xenophobia and misogyny. Neither do the authors through this work of fiction promote violence nor make light of such grave matters as genocide, any taking of human life, murder, execution, rape, torture, persecution of sexual orientation.

By accessing this work of fiction you hereby accept and agree that this is a work of fiction and does not reflect in any way the opinions of the authors. The authors do not necessarily endorse the views expressed by the fictional characters.

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All characters are fictional. Any similarities with living or deceased people are coincidental. In case of real life events, creative license has been applied. Special Forces is intellectual property of Marquesate and Vashtan. Copyright © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.


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Published 29 November 2006