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Special Forces Chapter XIV: Brothers in Arms

June 1985, Kabul

Dan 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.

He 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 Chinook.

Lifting 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.

He 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.

Stains and smears on the walls, dirt encrusted windows, and the never ceasing rotation of the lazy rotor blades, as he lay, waiting.

* * *

We 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 ...

The 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.

If 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.

The 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."

He 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.

Then 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.

A 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 crashing down.

The 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.

* * *

A 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.

A 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.

Dan 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.

Dan raised the bottle towards the other. "Welcome to heaven and hell once more, Russkie." In Russian, and he smiled at last.

Eyes 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."

He 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.

In a war that was now an endless column of numbers, endless paperwork, it took one enemy to feel alive.

Dan 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."

He 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 a while.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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 cheap lie.

The 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.

He 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.

Dan 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.

Lifting 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 a while."

The 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."

Ravenous 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.

Dan 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.

Everything 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 pebbled ground.

Dan 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 body.

"Make 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, that need.

Vadim's 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.

His 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.

He 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.

With 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.

Dan 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.

"Turn", 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 care.

And now, we play prisoner.

Dan 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 started.

The 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.

Fuck. This time - like every time - it was for real.

Vadim 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 edge.

"Won't 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.

Cold, 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 position, ever.

Nobody 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.

His 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 to breathe.

Dan's 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.

Bucking 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!"

Fuck 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!

"Give me a reason!"

The 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.

Lack 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 … fuck!

Dan 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.

Dan 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.

Hell. Pain, dirt, grime and stench and impossible heat of sweat, bodies and raw power.

Heaven. Alive. Could feel his own body, fighting another's and just took and rode the strength of his Russian.

His 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.

Vadim 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 sweat.

Fingers 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.

Vadim 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 down.

That 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!"

Vadim 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 too long.

No 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.

"Fuck!" Dan cursed between a hissed intake of breath. Arching upwards, towards the heat and the burning-stinging throat, still coated with oily vodka.

He 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.

Vadim 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.

Dan 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 matter.

Pushing, 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.

Vadim 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 decent stuff.

Dan 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.

He 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.

Vadim lowered the bottle, offered it to Dan as he sat down on the bed, leaning against the wall.

Dan 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.

Their 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, Soviet style.

"It's 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.

"Not again …" 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.

"Why 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.

"It's 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."

Vadim 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?

He 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.

"The 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.

"I 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 it?"

"Eighteen 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.

Didn't 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.

"Yeah, 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."

Girlsville. 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 sun.

A 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.

"Not 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.

The 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.

Vadim chuckled tonelessly. They were both animals; it didn't matter much.

Dan paused. Silence.

"I 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.

Vadim 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, huh?"

Dan 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.

"I'm 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." Dan murmured.

Vadim's 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.

He 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.

Dan 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.

"You 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 share.

"Always." 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.

"I got a bottle of good whisky." Silent question 'how long can you stay?'

Vadim 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 get wasted."

And fucked.

Dan 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.

Vadim 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 to duty.

"Fuck," 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.

Vadim 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.

Making sure he licked his fingers every now and then as he ate.

Meat, bread, booze. Simple men - simple pleasures. Yeah, right.

Dan 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.

"Russkie, 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.

Resting 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.

"Simple." 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 unbidden images.

Vadim 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.

"I'll 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 away, breathing.

"No, 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 get."

Vadim 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.

Small 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 desperately alive.

Vadim 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.

It 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.

Vadim 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.

Friction, 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. "Not enough."

Vadim 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.

Dan 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.

Vadim's 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.

"Yes", he murmured. "I'm interested." A grin he didn't feel.

"Of 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.

Friction 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.

Vadim's 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 cared.

Felt 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 it hurt.

"Dan, fuck …" 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.

Dan 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.

His. The body was his, the man was his. His, his, his alone!

Feeling 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.

A 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.

Vadim 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 were possible.

He 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. Very careful.

Breathless, 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.

Dan 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.

"Lapushka?" He finally murmured, remembering the word, it only now registered with him.

Vadim 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.

"Fucking 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. Holy Shit.

"I have to be gone before dawn." Dan added quietly. "Stay?"

He'd 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).

"Wake me up before you go." So I can watch you leave.

Dan 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 embrace.

Vadim 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.

We're 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.

* * *

Dan was gone. True to his word he had woken Vadim then left, no words, just a touch and a nod.

He was gone. Nothing left. Except for an abandoned piece of kit.

The 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.

Tucked 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.

Dan 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 him.

The 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.

Inside 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.

A 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.

Or so they said. Dan didn't give a fuck anymore.

The 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.

Crammed 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.

Carefully 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.

Then 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.

No 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.

A packed bergan and a pair of boots. 'Stay alive, Russkie'.

From one soldier to another.

Special Forces Chapter XV: Enemy Mine
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.

By accessing this work of fiction you hereby indemnify the authors against all claims and actions whatsoever arising from reading the work of fiction.

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 16 January 2007