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Special Forces Chapter LXVIII: Till Death

October 2005, New Zealand

When Dan finally came out of the consultation room, he was frowning, but the moment he looked up to shake the doctor's hand, his face smoothed back into a neutral expression. With a large manila envelope under his arm, he made his way towards Vadim, who'd been sitting in the waiting area. Dan's limp was more pronounced these days and it wasn't the left one that caused the problem, forcing him to him rely on the cane a lot more than he used to.

Vadim looked up from his chat with an elderly kiwi he'd struck up a conversation with, and touched the man's arm when he said goodbye, and the man nodded and smiled. Vadim stood and looked at Dan attentively, then stepped to his side and silently offered support. "What's up with that knee?" he asked.

"Fucked." Dan summarised the whole shebang of lengthy consultation with the one word. "Just like the other." He frowned and handed the envelope to Vadim. "I need another replacement, and this time, I was told, I mustn't wait too long."

"You won't." Vadim touched him on the arm, moving slowly while Dan made his way outside and towards the car. He opened the car door for Dan, then moved around to claim the driver's seat. Thinking. Remembering how only family could visit, remembering the whole painful time spent waiting and worrying. "We'll do that one better this time."

"Aye," the frown was back on Dan's face, and remained even as he lit a fag, window down. "I guess it would be damn hard if we managed to do it any worse than last time." He grimaced, blew smoke out of the open window and struggled to find his irreverent humour. There was no way around it: he was frightened, but hell, he wasn't going to admit it again. "I just bloody hate hospitals and you don't like them any better."

"We'll get the best one money can buy, and …" Vadim paused when a thought hit him. It was an outrageous thought, but it seemed like a good idea. He'd have to check some things, just to be sure. He followed the news, and he was fairly certain it was possible, but he'd have to be absolutely sure. They were both still British citizens, after all.

"And what?" Dan looked at Vadim, brows raised.

Vadim put the key into the ignition and turned it. "And we won't make the same mistakes again." He glanced over at Dan and smiled. "Promised. We can plan this properly and make sure it's nowhere near as bad and awkward." He fought to keep his face straight, because he really liked that idea.

"Okay, guess I just have to get through it somehow." Dan leaned out of the window once more to blow smoke. "I fucking hate hospitals." Grumbled, but he fell silent after that, deep in thoughts. It took him almost all of the way back to the farm before he had caught himself. If it had to be done it had to be done, and perhaps this time he'd have the bottle to ask Vadim to be there with him, and if he felt really courageous he might even tell him that he was scared stiff of the anaesthetic - completely irrationally.

Back at the house, Vadim made them both mugs of tea and then took to the office for a bit. Internet was slow, but he didn't mind that much. Bingo. After browsing a few official sites, that question was answered. His memory hadn't betrayed him. It was possible, and for once, a good way to hit back. Defend himself and Dan, and their 'lifestyle' from any doctor bullshit. He came out again. "I have to get something from the supermarket - I really want roast chicken for dinner." He leaned in to kiss Dan and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'm back in an hour."

"Sure." Dan grinned, "I never say no to roast chicken. As long as I get chips as well, and some mayonnaise." He'd thrown the x-rays underneath the couch table and had propped himself up in front of the telly, watching a DVD of yet another war film. His collection had become legendary.

"I'll get fresh potatoes - and stuff to make mayonnaise as well."

"Make mayonnaise? Holy fuck, I think I am in love with you." Dan was still laughing when Vadim had left.

Vadim drove to Palmy, bought some chicken and the other things, then set about making dinner. The chicken was huge and took nearly one and a half hours, which gave him plenty of time to set everything else up. He laid the table out on the veranda, lit some candles, then set up the food as well and called Dan, who had been upstairs in his study while the chicken was in the oven.

When Dan came back down, slowly and laboriously, since the knee really was giving him trouble when going down the stairs, the frown was immediately back. Steeple, but with the added dimension of curiosity. "What's up? You don't usually lay it out that thickly. I'm not dying yet, you know, and the doc promised the new medication would kick in soon."

"Just sit down." Vadim smiled, watched as Dan sat down in his chair. Not quite the mood he'd have gone for, but then, when was ever the right mood. "I was wondering whether you'd make me an honest man." Vadim grinned, showing teeth.

"What?" Dan leaned half across the table.

"As in, would you marry me, or do you think you can get somebody younger and fresher? Hm?"

"What?" The one word was all Dan managed to get out. Dark eyes wide, staring at Vadim.

"Marriage. We are both British citizens. While Russia doesn't even allow any Russian to be gay, the United Kingdom and Her Majesty's Government have enabled us to 'marry', or at least have a civil partnership. I checked. Since I'm an atheist, I don't need the Church or a priest in this anyway. I'd have asked you whether you'd civil partnership me, but I think that sounds far too prosaic."

"I ... am a man." Dan slumped back in his chair, staring bug-eyed at Vadim. His intellectual capacities seemed to have deserted him.

"Yeah. So am I."

"Aye, I noticed." Dan ran a hand through his wild hair.

"Civil partnerships work regardless of gender." Vadim smiled. "It's really just so the doctors can't chase me out of your room. I'd be family. I could visit you, like family. I'd have the same, no, more rights. I don't want to get sent away again when you need me. And if I have to have an operation, the same applies to you. Plus, of course, it would make some things easier. Pension. Inheriting. Wills and all that legal stuff."

"I ... guess." Gobsmacked, floored and effectively shut up, Dan still hadn't stopped the fixed staring. He was trying to process the offer, but couldn't quite get his head around it. But then he'd gained a daughter, and that was the last thing he'd ever thought he'd have, and perhaps he could also gain a husband without the world spinning out of its axis? Holy shit.

"Just think about it. We don't have to decide that today."

"Aye." Sitting back, Dan looked up and at Vadim. Taking a long time to just look. The short blond hair, the face he knew so well, and how it had changed over the years. Lined, some wrinkles, slightly more tanned than it used to, age seemed to be doing that to a person, and thus the pale eyes looked even more stunning. Stunning, yes, that was the word, the face had never lost its impact and the body had never diminished its allure. The years had been kind. Vadim still was the man he'd always wanted. Everyone else, no matter who and where and what, paled in comparison to Vadim. His Russkie. His cunt. Dan smiled at last. "You really caught me off guard." Tilting his head, he studied Vadim's face once more. Each expression, every inch he'd touched and kissed and knew so damn well. And Vadim, in turn, seemed calm, a smile around his lips, but it wasn't self-conscious at all. Vadim liked being looked at.

"Do you remember all the times we were joking? And I always said I'd never do such a crazy thing, knowing full bloody well that we never could? Seems I was wrong." Dan huffed.

"Well, I actually was married and I promised that that wouldn't happen to me again. I was wrong, too." Vadim leaned back, regarding him. "But who could have known it would be possible at all? That we have a place in 'normal society', rights, legal stuff, pension plan and all that?"

"Aye, that's fucking weird. And good, damn good." Dan's smile rapidly morphed into a grin. "Shit! Now I actually do have to figure out the answer."

"Yes please."

"So, do you want to marry me for convenience or for my outstanding beauty, charm and loveliness?" The toothy grin nearly split Dan's face.

"I thought you'd swallow the hook easier if I told you it's just for the legal side of things." Vadim reached over and took Dan's hand. "While, in truth, I want to see you in that kilt again."

"You're so predictable, Russkie!" Dan laughed, "and you didn't even take proper advantage the last time I wore one." His fingers curled around Vadim's, squeezing tightly for a moment. "Is that the male variant of a wedding dress, aye?" He winked, leaned across the table, meeting Vadim halfway over the chicken.

Vadim grinned, leaning over, too, hand held fast. "Well, with us, it's fairly clear who wears the dress … and I'm going for a proper tux. Bells and whistles. Peter has tried to sell me one for years." His tailor on Saville Row, who might or might not have a crush on Vadim, but certainly had made a small fortune from the acquaintance.

"Guess that's settled, then." Dan tilted his head forward, to briefly touch Vadim's forehead with his own. "But just so that it's clear, I won't marry you for the surgery, the legal rights, the kilt and not even for the tux. I marry you because we bloody well can and I bloody well love you."

"And you caught the flower bouquet from Solange."

"Oh shit, I'd forgotten."

Vadim grinned, then grew more serious. "I love you, too. For everything, and for the rest of my life."

Dan swallowed, said nothing, just smiled and leaned in for a kiss. Bad enough the chicken was getting cold by now.

* * *

Later that day, after checking the time zone and figuring that it was morning in England, Dan phoned the Baroness, hoping to catch her in her mansion in Surrey, probably during her morning tea. He wanted to tell her first of all people what they'd decided. Maggie, his oldest friend.

She was on the phone straight away.

"Ma'm?" Dan never introduced himself these days.

"Dan, what a pleasure to hear from you. Is everything alright?"

"Pretty much, aye. Have to have another knee op, but that's not why I call. Figured you'd like to know what I have to tell you."

"Which is?"

"Did you hear that the law is going to change in Britain from December onwards?"

"Which law, Dan?" She sounded a little bemused, and Dan had to grin.

"Civil partnerships, Ma'm."

"Civil ..." there was a moment's hesitation and Dan picture how she was catching on. Rather quickly, he presumed, for she had the most acute mind he'd ever known, and advancing age had not changed that. "Dan, are you telling me that you have decided to 'tie the knot'?"

Dan laughed, "I think that's a bit too late. We've got so many bloody knots tied, we'd never manage to unravel them, but aye, Vadim had the grand idea that we should go for it. What do you think? Makes all the legal stuff easier."

"What I think?" her voice seemed suddenly that of a much younger person, "I am absolutely delighted! Oh, Dan, my dear friend, what wonderful news on a dreary October morning. That is an excellent idea. Tell me, have you already decided when and where and how?"

"Uhm ... no." Dan frowned, "haven't even thought about it. I figured somewhere in a registry office?"

"Absolutely not!" Her sudden enthusiasm surprised him. "You have to have a proper celebration. Do you not realise that you have been together, if memory does not fail me, for twenty-five years?"

Together? Dan's eyes widened. Together was perhaps not the right word, but ... holy fuck. She was right. Twenty-five years since a night of terror in a rat infested alley in Kabul. "I hadn't thought about that, no."

"This is therefore a silver wedding." Her brief laughter was nothing but delighted. "Don't you think this should be celebrated in style?"

"I ... guess?" Dan was clearly out of his depth, but when it came to this lady, he was rather used to that.

"Exactly, and I am certain that Vadim would agree. Would he not?"

"I ... guess?" Dan rolled his eyes to no one, realising he wasn't quite making intelligent conversation.

"In that case, my dear friend, would you do me the honour and allow me to arrange and organise the celebrations? It is such a wonderful occasion, and I would be proud if you let me be your wedding coordinator. I'd be delighted."

Dan was taken aback for the second time that day, and he could do nothing but shrug. "If you'd like to, Ma'm, of course."

"Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. You just send me a list of guests, and please don't keep it short, I'd like you to invite everyone who has been a friend and acquaintance over the years and who you would like to partake in this joyous occasion. Send it to me via email, I have recently properly joined the 'net generation'. I believe they call us silver surfers."

Dan grinned, "of course, and I'm not so far off the silver myself."

The sound of her laughter was heard, short and warm, before she gave him her private email address, then added, "I will let you know a choice of venues and possible dates. I believe you would like to have the ceremony as soon as possible and before the surgery you mentioned?"

"Aye, that's the idea."

"January it will be, then. You will hear from me soon."

Dan wondered for several long minutes after the call, if he'd ever heard her that delighted and excited before, and he decided that he hadn't.

* * *

"Vadim?" Dan called out from the top of the stairs. "I'm not sure if I haven't just made a fucking big mistake."

"You typed in your bank details in a phishing email from Nigeria?"

"Worse. I think I just told Maggie it was okay for her to organise the wedding. Civil partnership ceremony, but it's the same damn thing." Dan leaned against the banisters at the top of the stairs, with a helpless expression in his face. "I hope that's alright with you, she was so excited, I fear this will be a big occasion. She's asked us to come up with lists of guests. Emphasis on the plural."

Vadim laughed. "What, the whole lot in one place? Hooch, Jean, Duncan, Katya and Kisa …" he grinned up at Dan. "Why not. Should be the party of the year, and it's all friends and family."

Dan was visibly relieved. "A propos Hooch and Jean, we're going to have best men? The whole shebang? Does it work like that with blokes, too?"

"I think so. And … Hooch is probably the logical choice for me. Which means I have to call him. And Jean for you. Should result in great photos." Vadim was leaning against the wall. He could already see that - all four of them decked out in formal clothes, grinning into the camera.

Dan laughed. "If we're not careful we'll end up in one of those male fashion mags you sometimes read." He turned more serious, "but you're right, I should go and give Jean a ring. The way Maggie sounded, we better get cracking on a list of addresses soon. As you know, she can be awfully fierce if she wants you to do a job." He winked, before retreating back to his study.

"Yeah. Get on the phone, then. I'll do the same." Vadim was about to turn, then paused and went up the stairs and followed Dan, stopping him in the doorway. "By the way … what about rings? Would you like rings?"

"Haven't even thought about it. Actually, haven't thought about anything at all." Dan grinned, then glanced at his left wrist, where he usually wore the lapis lazuli beads. "Have you got something in mind?"

"Yeah, something simple. I've seen rings in one of my 'fashion mags'." Vadim mocked Dan's tone lightly. "Steel, but damascene steel. It has patterns. Very different to anything I've ever seen. I only have to find out what the designer was called, but you'll like them."

"Steel sounds good." Dan smiled, "you always liked me with a blade, aye? I guess a steel wedding ring is the second best thing, and a little less lethal."

"Aye." Vadim reached out and kissed Dan, one of those gentle kisses that were all about tenderness. "Damn. We'll get married. Now it starts to sink in." Vadim stepped back with a sigh.

"Don't mention it, or I'll get a twitch in my eye." Dan grinned, and gave Vadim's shoulder a tender squeeze, then slapped it playfully.

Vadim smiled. "Right, I'll call Hooch. Let's hope he's not on some training course or other."

"Good luck, I'll try Jean. Let's hope he's not occupied by kids or vintners." Dan winked.

Vadim snorted, shook his head and went to find the other phone.

* * *

It took a while for anybody to answer Jean's phone. When Jean did, he sounded a little breathless. "Oui?"

"You been screwing vintners or playing with your kids?"

Jean laughed. "You got me. Give me a sec." Some rustling and shifting, then the familiar sound of the coffee machine grinding beans.

"Got you in what, the screwing?" Dan lit a fag while listening to the sounds on the other end.

"No, we were just getting a bit frisky. No screwing yet."

"So you are doing the pretty vintner." Dan smirked.

"Frederic? Yeah. It just happened. Right, I'm in the kitchen now. What can I do for you, apart from phone sex and telling you naughty stories?"

"Be the best man at my wedding?"

"You and Vadim? Sure. When? You dragged me to the altar, I can recipro… do the same."

"What, you're not even shocked yet?"

"What?" Jean paused. "You are serious? You're marrying him? I thought that was a joke."

"What else? You think I phone you up, disturb your chances of getting hot man-sex - which is an important thing for someone as straight as you are - just to take the piss?" Dan laughed out loud. "No, Frenchie, we are doing the civil partnership thing. It'll happen in January, and Maggie has taken over the organisation. I assume you know what that means."

"Wow." Jean stopped the machine with a click, then foamed up some milk. "Sure, I'm up for it, and as I said, Frederic just happened." He grinned. "Congratulations. Solange saw that one coming. She always thought you were perfect together and should be married."

"She knew more than I did. I am rather floored." Inhaling smoke, Dan grinned at the computer screen, which displayed an email from Kisa that had just come in. "Britain's changing the law, I'm just checking it, from fifth December on, and the first folks get hitched before Christmas. The party will happen somewhere in the UK, no idea what Maggie comes up with. Anyway, how are you, how's Solange, and how are the aliens?"

"I'm doing alright. It's weird being a freelancer. I have to hustle to make sure the bills are paid. No hustling, no cash. Solange has acted a little bit in a few very independent and arcane films. I doubt that will ever pay as much as her other stuff, but it makes her happy. Her and her arty friends, and there's talk of golden palms and Cannes and all that, but I think they are just talking shit." Jean sipped his coffee while Dan chuckled and put out his fag.

"The vineyard is doing good business - surprisingly, really. Frederic was spot on about all that organic food trend. He got it back up to specs, since it had been left for years and years the soil was clean, so he could start with that organic thing straight away. While other vineyards are struggling with the demand, he's starting to buy more acres and working on the actual wine. It's not going to be massive, but it's nice enough and starts to pay off, we don't have the same price pressure as everybody else, so that's a good thing. The kids… well, they are at school. Boarding school. Great stuff, they are in the same place with diplomats' kids and, above all, that gives us the flexibility to keep the rest of our lives running. But they are great. Smart young people, they are much, much better compared to what they were when we picked them up. Healthy, too, which is the main thing."

"Positively domestic, then." Dan smiled, "and does Solange have any idea about Frederic and you?"

Jean paused. "No. I'm keeping that double life going. Does that make me a scumbag?"

"I'm not the right person to make any judgments, but I am looking forward to seeing her again. Will you bring the aliens?"

"They are in school, but you're welcome to visit us when they're here. We got enough space." Jean's voice lowered. "And while I like Frederic, he's not quite the same."

"He doesn't fuck you?" Dan murmured, closed his eyes and pulled up the image of Jean on his lap.

"No, he doesn't. Mostly, I fuck him." Jean's breathing was louder, the voice rough with intimacy. "I imagine you when he gives me a blowjob. He likes giving head, just like you, but he's still different."

Dan tipped his head back, phone close to his ear. Shit, this really wasn't what he had intended, but that voice, the memories ... "I want to fuck you again, Jean, and this time I want to call all the shots."

Jean swallowed audibly. "How would you do me? Want me to get off on that? Here, now?"

"What haven't we done yet, is the question." Dan grinned, eyes still closed, going through the mental images of all the times he'd fucked Jean since the first time, back on that couch. A dozen times, perhaps, and each as special as the first. "You've never been on your knees." He murmured, hand dropping to his groin, he sat with knees open, feeling the response beneath his palm. "But that's where I want you, in front of a mirror, so you can watch yourself getting fucked."

"Oh you bastard," Jean murmured. "I'm so hard. Frederic is probably asleep up there in the bed right now …" Breathing louder, then changing the grip on the phone.

"In the afternoon?" Dan mocked.

"Yes. We were about to get to round two…"

"In that case ... I don't want you to come in the kitchen, but I want you to go upstairs and do exactly to your vintner what I'd do to you. I want you to be hard, and close to coming, and I want you to not even bother waking him up. Just take him and imagine it was me taking you." Dan's breathing increased, "do you understand, Jean?"

Jean groaned. "Yeah. He'll like that. He likes it a little rough at times. Should still be oiled up. Shit. Dan."

"You're going bareback?" Surprise in Dan's voice, soon overlaid with arousal. "The next time I see you, I want you on all fours, on the bed, knees spread wide, lubed up, arse high and open, while you're watching yourself in a mirror. I won't touch you, and you won't stroke yourself either, while I'm standing behind you, slamming my cock into your arse. And you'll want it, you'll want to get fucked, and you'll ask me for it." His breathing was fast, irregular, his cock hard under his hand, trapped in the tight black jeans.

Jean gave another groan and breathed hard, like he could feel it, the intrusion, when he focused his mind completely on getting entered. He found it hard to relax, every time. "I'll want you to fuck me hard and deep," he murmured. "And I'll watch you… do it, watch your cock ... ram up into my ass…"

"That's right." Dan felt like groaning, wanting to do exactly that right now. "And you'll want it so badly, you'll come by getting fucked, you'll lose it completely." Dan concentrated on the images, then whispered, "now go, take him. Fuck him."

Jean needed a few moments before he could respond. Stopping right there was hard on him, wanted to stay on the line and finished it. "Okay … call me … call me later?"

"Aye, when you're done, and you'll tell me everything." Dan pushed a button and hung up. Breathing hard, he opened his eyes. Damn, he was so horny right now, he had two options. Pushing himself out of the chair, and went for option number one. Number two could be a fall-back, his own hand never refused.

"Vadim?" Dan leaned in the doorframe of Vadim's study, watching the broad back, hand inside his jeans, the top buttons open.

Vadim turned, saw Dan's state, smiled and got up. "Good conversation?" he asked.

"Aye ..." Dan grinned, "telling Jean how I want to fuck him, and making him fuck his vintner in the exact same way, does that to me." He popped open the last two buttons. "I am really horny and really want to fuck you. Or suck you. Or get sucked, Or even just a hand job, or ... you get the gist." He leaned against the doorframe for support, while pushing his jeans down. Commando, like he'd always been, and fully hard.

Vadim came close, chest to chest, and kissed him deeply, fully, hand moving down to Dan's cock, smiling into the kiss. "Why am I not surprised," he murmured, then went down on his knees without releasing the cock. He took Dan between his lips, wondering for a moment what Dan was thinking of, Jean or him, and whether it mattered. It didn't. Jean was somewhere in Europe, and they were here, and everything else didn't matter all that much. There was no cheating involved, just pleasure and sex. He took him deeper, fucking his own throat with eager, practiced motions, Dan's reactions making him hard as well, the taste, all that tenderness and love.

When Dan came, he had a hand in Vadim's short hair, the other gripping the doorframe for leverage, as he thrust erratically. Eyes still open, he was breathlessly grinning down at Vadim. "Your turn ..." he pointed to the chair in front of Vadim's desk. "I want to taste you, Russkie."

Vadim swallowed one last time, as if for emphasis, then got up and kissed Dan. "Okay." He pulled the chair close with a foot and stepped back to open his own trousers and pulling his cock free, while Dan sat down, jeans still open. A few firm strokes got Vadim all the way interested from mostly-hard to fully hard.

Dan pushed the lever of the chair and it lowered down. Grinning, he beckoned Vadim closer. He had his hands on Vadim's hips, pulling him near and pushing him onto his lips, then down his throat with one reckless movement. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the tightness, heat, the suction and the fight that he'd always w in: deep throating with greed.

The sound in Vadim's throat might have turned into Dan's name, but was strangled and shattered into its components that didn't make any sense. Vadim thrust, hands in Dan's hair, against his neck, touching as he moaned and gasped with each thrust, each movement;. This was exactly right, mindblowingly good, and nobody could make him come that fast or hard. The exact knowledge, there was no awkwardness, no shame, just complete trust and welcome of whatever the other wanted and needed. Vadim groaned when he climaxed, feeling the throat constrict convulsingly against his cock, but Dan managed, kept breathing, knew how to.

Dan spent a long time licking and cleaning Vadim's slowly softening cock, and when he finally let go, he looked up, grinning. "That's better." He had to clear his throat, but he'd always enjoy the aftermath of the willing abuse. "Guess you can phone Hooch now, without fear of needing to cum." He smirked toothily, patting Vadim's hips and buttocks.

Vadim stowed himself away, then bent down to kiss Dan again. "We do that kind of thing very rarely," he murmured, and reached for the phone. Casually, as if inviting Dan to stay right there while he did his phone call. Re-dialling the number that had been busy a quarter of an hour ago.

"You know that I don't mind, whatever you do." Dan smiled, stood up with some effort, and tucked himself in. Thankful when Vadim picked up his cane while listening to the ring tone, which was going on for several times. Dan pressed a light kiss onto Vadim's cheek, then left the room, closing the door behind him.

The phone was finally answered by a girl's voice, cheerfully announcing the reception of 'Fitness Bootcamp' in a thick American accent and rather over-enthusiastic tones.

Vadim kept the laughter down, but the amusement was still audible. "Ah. Is Mr Bozic there? Krasnorada. I'm a friend."

"Oh hello!" She chirped, "it's Mandy speaking." Sounding as if she were the happiest person on earth for the only reason that she was talking to Vadim. "I'm sorry, I picked up a private call, it must have been set to reception. I'll patch you through. Bye!" Some clicking in the line, and then another ringtone, different this time, and a further wait, until there was a final click, and Hooch's voice drawled, "hey, Vadim."

"Hey." Vadim sat down and leaned back. "How are you doing?"

"Good, real good. Less bored than I used to be." Hooch let out a huff of laughter, as dry as always. "I'm getting old. Forty-fucking-five, and I finally miss being in the midst of the action less." Another huff of laughter. "You good? Been a few months."

"I am. I'm trying to get everybody to the UK in January. You think you're free then? I would hate to have to look for another best man." Vadim kept his tone level, very casual.

Hooch proved to be as sharp as ever, when he immediately answered, "a what?"

"I'm not sure what the American word is, the Brits call him the best man. The guy who keeps the rings in his pocket and acts as if he lost them."

"You are talking about whose wedding here?" It was a mean feat to get Hooch to an incredulous stage, but Vadim had succeeded, for once.

"Mine and Dan's. We're using that civil partnership law they are going to pass soon. We'll legally 'marry'. And that means rings and a huge party, and all our friends, and, well, you're special. I can trust you to not lose the rings, for once, and I love you in a suit."

"Jesus H Christ." Hooch exclaimed, "I didn't know about the law changing. We still have 'don't ask don't tell' in my job and Fayetteville's not, like, gay centre." A rustling sound, as he was getting out of his kit.

"I can imagine. Palmy isn't quite Wellington, either."

"Your best man? It's an honour. But a suit? Figured you'd rather want me in my dress uniform." Vadim had never seen him in it, despite the usual US military way, Hooch tended to prefer civilian kit. "On such a special occasion ..."

Vadim laughed. "Oh fuck. Well, you get off on the Soviet stuff … yeah, I would like that. Dress uniform at a gay wedding. That's … that's a good thought, I'd like that."

"No insignia, though. You know us Delta, secretive and all that shit." Hooch huffed again, then more rustling and two faint thuds, as he toed his boots off.

"That's fine. I know what you are, underneath that cloth," Vadim murmured.

"You are the only one who truly knows that part of me beneath the cloth. Matt ..." Hooch breathed for a moment, nothing else. "Don't tell me I'll be the only military guy. What about that legion officer?" His voice changed as he walked through the rooms, then the sound of the fridge being opened.

"Beauvais? He'll be invited, too. Dan's best man is also legion. Ex-legion, actually. Fake Frenchman, he's from Moscow. Jean. He's the guy where we picked up Beauvais, when he got married." Vadim smiled. "He's married, but very much into Dan. We had some threesomes with him, it all started in Kuwait. Maybe I'll tell you the long story one day, but he made me really jealous, the bastard."

"Worse than I made Dan?" The pop and fizz of a can being opened. These days, as Vadim knew, Hooch was more into diet coke than lager.

"Somewhere in that category." Vadim felt he missed the man, missed the way he moved and how he looked at him. Barbed friendship, there was always a touch of hurt, but the rest was deep and good and solid, and if he could help Hooch deal with his demons, and enjoy in return what Hooch gave him in trust and need and other blood currency, he could only count his blessings. They met about twice a year, to play their games. 'Time out' they called it both, and Matt and Dan knew. Dan understood, all that jealousy stuff didn't find any purchase these days between him and Vadim, and Matt accepted. "I'll email you some photos so you know who you're talking to."

"You can always mail some nude shots if you have them." The sound of liquid and swallowing. "I might just reciprocate." The can came down onto the table and Hooch's grin was audible in his voice. "I'm sure Matt would oblige, he got pretty good with the camera. A side-job in addition to the gym. Even though the little bastard earns shitloads."

"Good to hear … I think we have some … suggestive shots, not sure about nude. Will have to check with Dan." Vadim laughed. "And I remember you well, but wouldn't say no."

"You could tell me how you want me." Hooch retorted, "it's been a while ... I'm getting antsy."

"Then we should meet as soon as you can make it." Vadim checked the calendar on the computer. "We're in Europe anyway for Christmas and will flyover at the beginning of December. It would be good to meet you before that."

"I can make it at the end of November. Can you come to the US?"

"I can." Because he really wanted to, and maybe get himself some work lined up on short notice. There were a few corporations that had been interested. "How do I want you … well. I remember how you shake when you're kneeling in a stress position, blindfolded."

"Shit, Vadim," Hooch took in a sharp breath, "I got to be at a Mess dinner in an hour."

"How long is the drive?"

"Twenty minutes. Plus shower, dressing. I got twenty-five minutes tops."

Vadim checked the time. Twenty-five minutes. That should be just enough to make Hooch uncomfortable. "Get a nice steel plug," he murmured, low, checking over his shoulder whether Dan was anywhere near, but Dan had shut the door behind him when he left. "Then kneel."

"Yes." Just that, and then the sound of Hooch moving to another room. Vadim knew Hooch kept the small but excellent selection of high-class toys in the bedroom, and that Matt was perfectly aware of it all. A drawer was pulled open, metal clinked, and then Hooch's voice again. "What do you want me to do?"

"Prepare yourself for that plug." Vadim closed his eyes, imagining Hooch down on his knees, the tanned skin, the smooth muscle. At his physical best for his age. The man was the very best the Americans had, and he agreed, wholeheartedly, if for different reasons. "Fuck yourself with it, on your knees, chest down, knees apart."

Hooch didn't answer, except for his hitching breath, and the phone was put down on the floor. "Fast? Deep?"

"Slow, but deep. Don't let up." Vadim smiled, but kept the smile out of his voice. Hooch's groans were intensely rewarding, even though his own body didn't respond, it was still something to be cherished, and he was better at this if he didn't need himself. Hooch had a way to break his control, so it was always better to get off first, before they started in earnest. "You need to feel it. Hit that spot, like I'd do it. I'd hold you down, between your shoulder blades. Boots, uniform. You can't see me, but you can smell me. Hear me."

"Yeah, I ... can hear you." Hooch's voice was forced, as he breached himself and fucked his own arse with slow, deep, but intensely powerful thrusts. A sudden jolt, a suppressed cry, when he got it right. "You ... hit me ... again?"

"Yes." Vadim said firmly, the smile now gone. "I worked you over good. Slapped you, whipped you, strung you up like a hog for slaughter." Hooch shuddered audibly, and Vadim stood, feeling tension in his body. The thought of torture did that, made it impossible to remain relaxed. "But I'd fuck you like this, feeling you cringe after the pain. With the afterglow of pain. Fucking you because it's good, because I have the power to do it, like I want it, not how you want it." He sometimes did that, when Hooch had suffered, and he felt that a brutal hard fast fuck was not enough of a contrast. He'd often squeeze Hooch's balls then, after he'd come himself, to add just that edge of pain and often getting him off like that. With more pain.

Hooch groaned loudly, "I need ..." he never finished the sentence, couldn't ask nor beg. Against his very grain, but he needed, needed so badly. The pain, the humiliation, and ever more pain.

"Slow down." Merciless. Vadim wanted to make Hooch come, wanted to hear him lose it, but knew that Hooch needed the exact opposite. Compassion, love, friendship, all that only meant he had to give Hooch what he really needed. "Slow. Down to a crawl. Shallower. Now let it go, don't touch it, leave it right there. Both hands on the ground. Breathe."

"No ..." Hooch's voice hardly human, but he did as he'd been told. The steel plug remained deeply embedded in him, and he shuddered as he stilled, so close to coming, his breathing was erratic and loud in the phone.

"Get a cock ring. No, better. You won't want to embarrass yourself. Get that chastity device. Put it on. Careful, I don't want you to come. Not now. Not without permission. Wear it under the uniform … our little secret."

The breathing was ragged and Hooch's voice impossibly husky. "Shit, I ... need to get soft to get into it." Desperation tinged his voice, too. "Cold shower. Yes. Give me a moment."

"I'll be here," Vadim promised. "Don't finish yourself off."

"I won't." The sound of movement, then nothing for a few minutes, before the phone was picked up. Hooch's voice sounded more normal now, it had regained some of its equilibrium. "I did as you ordered. Locked in, the plug as well. Where am I to leave the key?"

"Put it in an envelope and drop it off at the gym for Matt." Vadim smiled now. "Get dressed and attend that Mess function like a good soldier."

"I will." The discomfort was evident, but also the way Hooch hid it. "I will call you later."

Vadim smiled. "I'll be here. Later." He had to hang up, to not break the tension too much, allowing Hooch his fantasy, and, besides, he should call Matt. He redialled the number and fortified himself against that saccharine sweetness of the receptionist, knowing that the private line had been set to the switchboard.

She was just as annoyingly enthusiastic as before, but quickly patched him through to Matt's mobile, who had just finished his class.

"Yeah?" Matt sounded breathless, and there was music in the background. He was clearly not just giving training but taking it at the same time.

"Vadim here. I just … talked to Hooch. He's off to his function, but I think he'd appreciate it if you were there when he returns. I don't think he'll linger more than he absolutely has to." Vadim smiled. "You think you'll be home?"

It took Matt a moment before he caught on. "I always am ..." The sudden change in breathing told Vadim that Matt had figured out what he was talking about. Matt moved from the gym up the stairs, through sets of doors and into the flat above. "Will he need to be silenced?"

A timbre in his voice gave proof that while Matt didn't play those games, he had learned how to reap their benefit.

"Why not." Vadim grinned. "Make sure he left you an envelope - or you'll need a bolt cutter and maybe some embarrassing help at a local clinic. He should have dropped it off."

"Hang on ..." paper in Matt's hands, then a smile in his voice. He had found the envelope with the key and a few words written on it. "How much will he need?"

"Make him kneel when he gets back, gag him and blindfold him and take the gear off. Fuck him hard. He'll be desperate when he gets back, I'm not sure slow and gentle does it after he's worn the chastity stuff for several hours. You okay with that?"

"Yeah, I'm okay with that. I won't even ask what he's thinking of." Matt's voice was coloured with a hint of arousal. "Did Hooch tell you about my go at photography? Want me to take some?"

"He did." Vadim gave a low chuckle. "I … wouldn't mind. Shit. I wouldn't. Too bad I'm getting too old to get photographed in the nude, or I'd ask you to take some of me. But Hooch … yeah, would be appreciated."

"Bullshit, you're not too old to be photographed, it's all a matter of how you take the pictures, but I'll snap some of Hooch tonight. I'll send them across by mail." A pause, "when are we seeing you two again?"

"End of November … and of course in January, because, yeah, Dan and I are getting married." Vadim gave a laugh. He'd check his email throughout the day. Damn. Hooch bound and desperate on photos. Imagination alone was great, but photos … he forced himself to concentrate on what he was saying. "In Europe, we're just inviting everybody, so, yeah, it would be good to have you there, too. Hooch is my best man, but partners and friends are welcome."

"Holy fuck, that's, like, the best news since Dan called me to say that Hooch was getting medevaced out." Matt was audibly grinning. "I've followed the debate, you're lucky bastards. Don't think it'll ever get here. Gods own country and all that shit, and let's wave the flag." Despite his words, Matt laughed.

Vadim refrained from agreeing with words - Matt was still an American, and those tended to be irrationally patriotic, whatever their country did to them. Let alone all the other things that he disliked about the remaining sole Superpower. Invading Iraq, making noises towards Iran, and seriously believing that they could change Afghanistan. Bush was a disaster, as laughably incompetent as any of the old men of the politbuero had ever been, but this was the new century, and part of him had hoped that they'd entered a more rational, less ideological age. America was single-handedly proving him wrong. "You'll be welcome," he said by way of diplomacy.

"I make sure I'll be there. Can't let Hooch have all the fun for himself. Tell Dan congrats from me, and you'll hear from me later. Bye."

"Bye." With that the call ended, and Vadim put the phone down and stretched his chest. That was two, well, three down, best man and his partner set up. He'd make a list of guests, too. That also included Katya, and he'd try to get hold of Nikolai. Anya? Unlikely. Maybe he should leave that to Katya. She had more influence over her daughter than he had. He jutted down some notes and was surprised at how many names appeared. Some were arcane, long-lost people like the Swedish cop. If he was still around in the area, and didn't mind coming to a gay marriage. It would be fun - he knew it would be.

* * *

A couple of hours later, after Dan had received his phone call from Jean, which left him with a huge grin and a thought he'd keep for later, he was called down for dinner. Dan slapped a stack of paper onto the table. "I made a list, but it's insane. Maggie did say to think of anyone we might want to see, but this is crazy." He followed Vadim into the kitchen to help put the food onto the table. One handed, with the knackered second knee he needed the cane all the time for now. "What about yours?"

Vadim pulled the quiche out of the oven and nodded towards the bread basket and salad bowl. "More than I thought," he murmured. "I guess the next stage is to agree who we want to see and who one of us doesn't like. Matt's coming, I talked to him already, and I'll invite Katya. I was just thinking to try and find that cute Swedish cop that got me out of the worst after Finland. Weird, I'm still curious about what happened to him. Maybe even some guys from the SAS selection, though ... that might be weird. Andy. He was a good one."

"Why not? If you can track them down? Or rather, get Maggie to track them down for you, she might be officially retired, but she still has her bloodhounds." Dan grinned, balancing salad bowl and bread basket all in one hand. "There are some guys I liked from my PMC teams, back in the Gulf and the Balkans. Then the Americans, of course, the chopper crew. If they want, or have the time, the money and the inclination, I'd like to see them again, especially the kid." Dan managed to get the items to the table without any accidents. Returning to the kitchen for the coffee and the water. "Dima and Markus, of course, they are right on top of the list, together with the likes of Maurice, Beauvais, the Glaswegian chaps, and don't forget my entire family, which seems to grow by the hour, and your entire family, and, most importantly, the part of family that is both yours and mine." He grinned, "I really can't wait to tell Kisa and Duncan." He was back in the doorframe, reaching for the water bottle, "what about your former life?"

"I don't want to embarrass General Ivanov." Vadim had stopped calling him Lesha after that ill-fated meeting. It didn't seem right. "I guess I can send him an email, emails are quickly deleted and forgotten, saves us both the embarrassment. Szandor is dead, so is Sasha, Platon, and Vanya. Dima is already on your list, so he's a given. And other than that ... I lost touch, they didn't mind me rotting in the Lubyanka, or we weren't close." Vadim sat down and started cutting up the quiche. Solange's recipe. He would have thought the fact she was a Muslim would have kept her from using bacon, but she had looked at him, smiling, and called herself a "Muslim-light". "My swimming coach is likely dead, and ... oh." His old father. "Oh, no way I'll ship my father or his family over. That would ruin everything." Father issues. The whole psychoanalysis had only served to make himself very aware of his hang-ups, especially when it came down to family.

"Well …" Dan poured water into their glasses, "I don't think I'm going to have anyone there from my old life in Forces, either. It's too long ago, I was a different guy then, and there isn't really a mate that I bonded with, but we have new mates now. We could invite the best lads from the Spa and see who balks in terror and who actually shows up." He laughed, holding out his plate for a large piece of pie. "And as for family, mine will be brother, sister in law, three nephews and their assorted wives, girlfriends, and babies. That's quite enough."

"Yeah, some Spa guys - fine with me." Vadim pushed the slice of quiche on Dan's plate. It didn't disintegrate, not like last time.

Tucking into the pie, Dan looked up after his first bite. "It would be good to meet Anoushka and her partner, in all those years I've never met your daughter, and your son is a great guy. Perhaps Katya could somehow persuade her?"

"I'll see if Katya can put her foot down. Even emergency surgeons need holidays, and I'm not above using some force to get Anya to comply. But from what Nikolai says, she's turned out a bit of a bitch ... she'll require some careful handling, I suppose." No wonder, as she's eternally pissed off at him for just leaving - and that was well-deserved. "Well. We can attempt to be courteous and friendly."

Dan grinned. "If she's anything like her father used to be when he was her age, then it's probably no surprise." The quiche was good and Dan showed his approval by chewing with gusto. "I think I know how to handle an explosive Krasnorada."

"How good are you in dealing with man-hating lesbians?"

"Are they any worse than rapist Spetsnaz homosexuals?" Dan bared his teeth in a sharp grin.

Vadim swallowed. "No. Don't think so." Did it shock him? No. But surprise. Yes. Was it the word or the thought, or was he reacting weirdly to banter. Banter. "Alright, we'll try and get her and her partner in. That's a lot of phone calls and emails."

Dan reached across, touching Vadim's arm. He'd seen a reaction in Vadim's face, a twitch, or whatever it was, and he'd learned that it could mean a whole torrent beneath. "I was joking, okay?" he smiled, "but I guess it wasn't a very funny joke. I'm sorry."

"I was just ... surprised." Speaking. Communicating. Whether it was a nightmare, a flashback, or irrational fear and anger, he had to communicate. "I'm nothing of that anymore. And that's not denial. It's just ..."

"It's not denial, you are right. You are nothing like that anymore. Neither am I the man anymore who tortured you." Dan gently squeezed Vadim's fingers.

Vadim looked at the food, and Dan's hand in his. "No, it's not very funny. Guess it never was."

"No, it was a shit joke and I'll try not to make one like that anymore, but you know me, I usually open mouth first and then engage brain."

"No, don't pussyfoot around me. I can take a joke." If I get it's a joke. Damn those triggers.

"I don't pussyfoot, you know that. I just realise some things a bit quicker these days." Dan smiled and gave Vadim's hand another squeeze. "It is over. It's the past, and some things really are the past. So much so that I'm going to marry you. After twenty-five years. Get that, Vadim, twenty-five years. We'll have our silver anniversary on our wedding."

"Quarter of a century." Vadim reached out with his other hand and held Dan's in both of his. "You made me human. I stand by that. You made me into somebody I would have wanted to become, if I'd ever thought about what I wanted to be that wasn't about a record or power or a rank or some ... delusion I was chasing. If all that was gone and stripped away, the man I am, I am because of what you did, what you made me feel all those years. Damn right you're going to marry me."

Dan swallowed, stared at Vadim and swallowed again. Fuck, that had hit him, fair and square, and all he could do was batter the sudden flood of emotions down with a jackhammer. "I ... wouldn't be me without you. Wouldn't even exist anymore." He tilted his head, wild grey hair, mixed with dark, falling into his face. "Is that enough reason to marry you? Aye?"

"Aye, it is." Vadim smiled, and all he really wanted to do was hold him now, hold Dan tight, but he'd do that later, after the food, and after he'd cleared everything away, standing in the kitchen and holding. They were fortunate in ways they discovered every day anew, he thought.

* * *

About a week later the Baroness called, and from the tone of her voice, she was rather pleased with what she had planned so far. She told Dan that she recommended Edinburgh for the ceremony, the capital of his home country, and the exquisite Balmoral hotel on Prince's street, with its spectacular ballroom, overlooking the whole of the glorious city. Dan was speechless at first, listening to the rest of her list, then asked her if he could call her back, because he wanted to talk to Vadim about it.

High class. Exquisite. Expensive. Posh. Ballroom. Holy fuck, that sounded as much like him as a Russian peasant's working boots sounded like Vadim.

He had a few bits of information scribbled down on a piece of paper when he went into their gym, to find Vadim do push-ups with free weights, breathing out every time he lifted the bar.

"Are you seated comfortably?" Dan stood in his favourite position, leaning casually against the doorframe. It took some weight off his knee and didn't make him look like a granddad.

Vadim pushed up again, then moved the bar back on the rack, and he sat up, patches of sweat on his grey shirt. "Now I am."

"Maggie called ... I think she completely missed her calling in life, she should have become a wedding coordinator." Dan grimaced rather than grinned, and put the paper far too close in front of his eyes. Damn, he'd forgotten his reading glasses again.

"Isn't diplomacy something like that?" Vadim wiped his hands on his gym slacks. "What has she coordinated for us?"

"She suggests Edinburgh, the Balmoral hotel, and their ball room, the Sir Walter Scott suite." Dan looked up from reading, raising his brows. "I don't know if you know, but the Balmoral is the most expensive hotel in a very expensive city. It's damn posh, it's probably so snooty they wouldn't even let me in if I didn't happen to be one of the grooms."

Vadim laughed. "I read 'Kenilworth' and 'Ivanhoe' and … 'Heart of Midlothian'? That is as far as my exposure to Sir Walter Scott goes, apart from the monument on Princes Street."

"Show-off!" Dan huffed. "But that's not all, she was talking about weird stuff such as wedding favours, whatever the fuck they are, wedding stationary, wedding flowers, wedding decorations, wedding-fucking-cake, wedding music, wedding catering, wedding ... you get the gist." Dan let his hand drop and groaned.

"That sounds … complicated."

"Complicated? It sounds like a nightmare to me. Unless you have anything to say about all this, or any preferences, I'd suggest we just let her get on with everything the way she wants to, because I really, truly and honestly, can't be arsed. I'd rather do the whole SAS selection again, than trying to figure out what bloody flowers should be on which bloody table accompanied by what bloody music." He grimaced again.

Vadim grinned and wiped his forehead on his shoulders. "I'm happy with that. Did you send her the list of people?"

"Aye, I did, but I have no idea how the hell she is going to find some of the guys. Besides, they might not even be alive anymore." Dan shrugged, "but I guess she isn't Her Ladyship for nothing. You do realise there'll be precious few females? I kind of feel sorry for the few that will be there." Dan pondered a moment, "no, actually, I don't. They are all tough bitches," he said with a fond grin, "except for my sister in law. Poor Mhairi, perhaps we should get someone to be extra nice to her? She'll probably be a bit overwhelmed, even though I think Duncan won't fare all that much better."

"Maybe place her near somebody … chivalric. Beauvais? He's good at acting straight, too. Or one of the Spa guys, there must be some that have manners." He could already picture that. "Wait, if Solange's there, she'll be nice to her. Solange is nice to everybody."

"Aye, that would work, and if we can get George, he'd be impeccably behaved." Dan let out a huff of laughter. "I guess any of the straight folk just have to expect that there will be more men than women and that the majority won't be playing the opposite field."

"Well, we'll have to invite their partners, and I assume George will bring that PA of his. And our straight contacts their women." Vadim gave a smile. "It might just work - it would be expected that military grooms have more male than female friends."

"Aye, that, too." Dan folded the paper and put it into his jeans pocket. "A propos George ... last time we spoke he didn't have anyone yet. Don't you think that Maurice might be just the right thing for hung-up George? Free spirited crazy-arsed French doctor and tight-as-a-button English financier." He let out a laugh and waved his hands before Vadim could say anything. "I know, I know, they say the one drawback of a happy marriage is that you want to see all your friends in one, too."

"English and French? That spells doom." Vadim shook his head, but grinned. "I assume there will be some hooking up, though. Why not? The guys can just as well enjoy themselves when they travel all the way to Edinburgh."

"Are you planning on a gay orgy and ..." Dan didn't finish his sentence, because the main phone ranf, and none of the stations was in the gym. "Shit." Dan rolled his eyes, "I'm slow, can you get it?"

"Sure." Vadim grabbed a towel on the way out and headed into the living room. "Yes?"

"Vadim? What a pleasure to talk to you." Maggie's voice.


"May I congratulate you as well? I'm sorry to call again, but I am afraid I only now realised a terrible oversight on my part. I did not explicitly state that the celebrations are my wedding gift, did I? Oh dear, I fear I must be getting old."

Vadim smiled and walked back with the phone towards the gym. "We are delighted, and, well, humbled a bit as well, but of course we'll receive it in the same spirit as it is given. Comparing how things started, getting this 'happily ever after' is ... an interesting development. Thank you."

"I am ever so pleased that you are pleased." Her voice sounded younger, suddenly. "I'd also like you to know that I am going to subsidise rooms for guests. We cannot possibly have them fly in from all over the world, and be unnecessarily out of their pockets, can we? So, please be assured that everything will be taken care of for everyone, and that immediate family and friends, and of course the best men, will be all accommodated in the Balmoral hotel, with further accommodation available in the Scotsman and the Carlton, both only a few yards away on North bridge." She'd had a lifetime of organising far greater things than a wedding, and yet her enthusiasm was audible.

"That's very appreciated ..." Vadim didn't want to do the numbers. He'd had a look at the hotel's website, and, well, all that wasn't cheap, by a long stretch.

"I would also like to invite best men with partners and spouses and both your families to a few days for acclimatisation. I believe that offering subsidised accommodation for all your other friends for two nights before the celebration and the night itself would be suitable? I would hate to see the party suffer from jet lag."

"That is incredibly generous of you, and frankly not something we'd have thought of. Hopefully you'll find the people enjoyable, too ..."

She gave a quiet laughter, then, "a propos party, what do you think of Scottish music for the ceremony? I know that Dan will enjoy it, but I do not wish to presume anything. I was thinking of a piper, a fiddler and a drummer, and for the evening's entertainment a Ceilidh band, with dancing master, so that all guests may join in. I was hoping to book a somewhat more contemporary band for the late night party, I was told there are bands that play Scottish music with ... 'oomph'." The way she said that colloquial word with her posh voice and perfect diction caused Vadim to grin.

"Well, I like Scottish music, and Dan should as a matter of patriotism."

"I am most extraordinarily glad in that case. Please tell Dan that I am not doing too badly with my mission to seek out the guests." She paused a moment, "I was wondering, if I send the invitations out, would your family and friends have already heard the good news from you? I am about to send you a scan of the invitations by email, my cook has a most marvellous nephew, he is a wizard of technology, bless the fine young man."

"No - we got the best men set and then we ... didn't pursue it quite as vigorously as we should've." Vadim leaned against the doorframe, grinning at Dan. "But if you handle that part, I guess them calling us is easier than us chasing everybody up anyway."

She laughed, almost at odds with the iron-willed elderly lay. "Do I detect a hint of ... cowardice there?" She teased, "or laziness? If I were talking to Dan I would guess for both."

"Both, Ma'm, and it's easy to stay in our little bubble here in timeless Kiwiland."

"At least you are honest, I do so appreciate that." The smile was audible in her voice. "There shall be a scan for you to approve in about half an hour. I promise after that I will leave you in peace and simply organise the celebrations. All you have to do is turn up on time. A few days before, don't you forget that."

Vadim grinned. "We'll fly over a week before, maybe two. We'll be there. Missing our own wedding would be too strange, especially as we inconvenienced everybody else." He paused. "Do you wish to speak to Dan? He's sitting here watching me and probably wants to talk to you, too."

"No, no, thank you, that'll be just fine. As long as you let me know if I may go ahead with the invitations."

"Of course. I'll check our email and get back to you ASAP."

A pause, and then a warm, "I wish you a good day, Vadim."

"You, too, Ma'm." He hung up.

Dan looked up from the bench. "Any more weird things on the wedding malarkey list?"

"She's handling the invitations, and got down to music, subsidizing rooms and inviting the closer people a couple days in advance." Vadim shook his head. "I'd have loved to have her as my quartermaster back in Kabul."

"Quartermaster?" Dan laughed, "she would have organised the whole of Afghanistan, down to every Muja, in about a month."

"And there's that."

Dan pushed himself back up, "what was that about email? Should I head upstairs to check something?"

"Yeah. She's sending us a scan of the invitations." Vadim leaned in for a kiss. "I start to feel like royalty."

"And I start to feel very frightened ..." Dan rolled his eyes, then gave a slap onto Vadim's buttocks. "Come on, let's get it done and over with. The quicker we say 'okay' the faster she sends them out and the sooner the phone starts ringing." He groaned.

"Yeah." Vadim stepped back and followed Dan out of the gym and up the stairs. Marriage, he thought. It was all hard to imagine, unreal, especially with the dimensions this was taking. The computer was always on, the mail programme checked mails every few minutes.

Half an hour had definitely been an exaggeration, because a mail was already downloading, with a fairly large attachment. When Dan opened the mail the text read 'Dear friends, I forgot to inform you that the flowers and decoration will be thistles and natural grass, there is therefore no need to worry about the potential of any un-manliness', Dan laughed at that description and shook his head. Her Ladyship had gained a newfound, almost irreverent humour in her advanced years. He read on, 'and you will hopefully like the stationary that I have chosen. They are an understated off-white, with gold embossed Rene Mackintosh design in one corner'. Dan groaned, "understated? My arse."

"Well, she got you right with the thistle," Vadim commented.

"What, fucking prickly?" Dan smirked.

When they opened the image attachment they saw the elegant stationary and the pre-printed message:

Baroness Margaret de Vilde requests the pleasure of the company of


at the Civil Partnership ceremony of her friends

Mr Daniel Ewan McFadyen
Mr Vadim Petrovich Krasnorada

in the Ceremony Room at The Balmoral Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh on Saturday 21st January 2006, at 2.30pm and afterwards in the Sir Walter Scott Suite, The Balmoral Hotel, Princes Street, Edinburgh

"Holy fuck." Dan exhaled, "it really is real, then, aye? What the hell happened to us along the way? We used to be so cool and reckless."

"We grew up, got modestly well-off, and somehow stood each other for twenty-five years."

"That is the biggest bloodiest understatement of the century." Dan sat down on the chair.

"She's enjoying herself so much, we shouldn't spoil it for her. And anything more than understated will feature horse-drawn carriages ... so be glad it's 'just' this."

"Shit, no! Horse drawn carriage? Maggie? I don't believe you, but I'm not going to risk it. I'll reply straight away."

Vadim laughed. "Yeah. Let's not take any risks."

All they had to do now was bracing themselves for the phone calls from family and friends.

* * *

The calls came in for days - at ungodly hours, too, which made Vadim laugh. Whenever the phone rang in the next days, he knew what he would be saying and explaining and it amazed him how many people they knew and how many of those cared. Katya promised to bring Anoushka, Nikolai agreed to come, too. Dima, Markus, Beauvais, Maurice, George, the Glaswegian guys who were still together, several squaddie friends from their Merc days and PMC team mates, and of course the best lads from the Spa ... there was nobody of any importance who didn't come - or promised to. Kisa had made noises over the phone which Dan described as squeals, but decided to be kind and not to mock her, and Duncan, well, Duncan and Mhairi were just as warm and delighted as anyone could have expected. Dan's rescued copter crew would be there as well, and Vadim kept a list, which grew daily. It would be a huge party.

When November arrived, he flew out to meet Hooch; it was good, comfortable, they knew each other so well, and as deep and dark as they went, as easy and good was the comradeship and that love and care that just enriched and didn't rival. Love, thought Vadim, never destroyed, it just added a new dimension, more depth. It was only a matter of how to approach it.

Then Europe, meeting the family, Jean, of course, and several days that Dan spent with Jean on his own, while Vadim this time, like Dan earlier, enjoyed some sights. Finally Christmas with Duncan's family. A familiar rhythm they had established, which found an unexpected high point when Nikolai flew in and brought Kisa over for Christmas in the Highlands.

Hogmanay, celebrated once more in the Highlands, and Dan joked when they all sang Auld Lang Syne, and had held hands, waved arms and kissed everyone there, the whole family with nephews, partners, babies ... that if this domesticated scene was going to get worse, he'd have to have his brain replaced and not his knee. Yet he secretly enjoyed it. They were both fifty-six and while they didn't look like it, they were getting older, and priorities had changed.

Not so much, though, that Dan didn't grin like a fool at Vadim when he mentioned the possibility of a stag night with the best men. Vadim was up for it, of course, remembering Jean's stag night, even though they had agreed to never share a man again, but this was special, Vadim argued. Hooch and Jean. It was a good thought, arousing and plain fascinating - whether they'd get along and it seemed only fitting to share that night. They flew down to London at the beginning of January, for Vadim to pick up his suit from the tailor, and then settled in Edinburgh. Hooch and Jean had agreed to come early - Matt would come with Hooch, but Solange couldn't get out of a shoot much earlier than the wedding.

The Baroness had been in Edinburgh, but was back down in London for a few days, to organise something or other that no one quite understood and thankfully left it in her immensely capable hands. She would be flying back up in a couple of days, to properly welcome her friends.

A week before the marriage, Dan and Vadim stood at Edinburgh airport to pick up Hooch and Matt, waiting for the plane from Heathrow. As usual, it took just about forever until the luggage had come through and the two Americans had made it through immigration and passport control. Dan was the first one to spot Matt, thirty now, and as perfectly sculpted, groomed and tanned as a model. He was animatedly talking to Hooch. Hooch, as cool as ever, shades stuck on top of his head, chewing a gum and looking every inch as deadly with forty-five as he had back in the Gulf. He had a slight smile on his face as he listened to whatever Matt was explaining with wild gestures.

"If that isn't an old couple then I'll let you fuck me sideways." Dan commented with a grin.

"You let me do that anyway," murmured Vadim, but had to agree. The two men looked very comfortable in each other's presence. Everybody else might read them as comrades or family, but this went deeper. Vadim sought Hooch's gaze and met it. Hooch's eyes flashed a recognition, smiling as he stepped closer. "How was the flight?" Vadim asked.

"Good, even though Matt complains the seats are too small."

"Damn well are. Made for midgets." Matt grinned, and before anyone got another word in, he pulled Dan into a tight buddy-like hug. He'd perfected the art of touching without touching. He'd always wanted to come out of the closet and say fuck it all to the military, but he never did, for Hooch's sake.

Dan laughed. "Shit, kid, even you have grown up. Far cry from the twenty-one year old Jarhead, aye?"

It was Hooch who answered, with a raised brow. "Don't mention that, or he'll worry about an imaginary grey hair or a nonexistent wrinkle."

"Fuck you." Matt groused, and Dan winked at Vadim, who shook his head and embraced Hooch, too, no less inconspicuous than Matt.

They gathered up all the bags and suitcases and brought them over to the rented car, paid the ticket and were off to the old city centre. "Ever been here?" asked Vadim.

"No," Matt settled into the seat, while Hooch pushed the shades back over his eyes, despite the rare sun being nothing but milky.

"Got anything planned?" Hooch asked after a moment, and the way he put a slight emphasis on the 'planned', it was obvious what he meant.

"Do you mean sightseeing, or ...?"

"Depends how jetlagged you guys are," Vadim said. "I was thinking we'll head to the hotel and maybe grab a bite and catch up."

"I haven't 'caught up' with Dan for a long time." Matt grinned, still looking out of the window, as if he hadn't listened.

"Your own fucking loss." Dan craned his head, but could only catch a glimpse of Hooch who was slouched in the backseat.

"'Catching up' all together?" Hooch casually asked.

"Matt's call," Vadim murmured.

Matt didn't answer, kept looking out of the window, before he turned and glanced first at Hooch, then ahead, head slightly tilted. "Can I, like, have a quick chat with you, Vadim?"

"Sure. Your call."

"Okay." Matt smiled and settled back, once again watching the city go by. Dan shrugged, and Hooch said and did absolutely nothing, while Vadim got them back into the very centre.

They parked not much later, and checked the guys in in the Balmoral - they'd decided moving around between hotels would be too awkward, and they'd be staying in the hotel anyway from Thursday onwards. They brought them up to their room, and left the two Americans alone to get showered and changed - and to discuss whatever needed to be discussed.

Dan had made his way down into the Palm Court Bollinger Bar, while Vadim checked his voice mail and called a bunch of guys back who had questions regarding the marriage.

Relaxing in one of the comfortable benches in a half-circle around a small table, Dan had a drink, flicking through a couple of Scottish newspapers. He almost didn't notice Hooch, not until he had reached the table. It surprised him that his senses, which had never left him, hadn't alerted him to the man's presence. He would have noted anyone else, strangers, staff, much earlier.

Hooch nodded to him, and Dan smiled, wordlessly indicating the seat beside him. They didn't speak for a while, and Hooch ordered a drink, then settled back with an international newspaper. Both of them reading in companionable silence.

Upstairs, Matt was knocking on the door of the exquisite room that Dan and Vadim shared.

Vadim just switched the phone off.

"Vadim?" Matt knocked again, listening to sounds from inside.

Vadim stepped to the door and opened it. "Yes. Come on in."

"Thanks, buddy." Matt smiled and stepped through. "Wonder if you got a moment, like. Got some questions."

"Sure." Vadim closed the door and gestured towards the mini bar. "Drink?"

"No, thanks. I don't drink anymore, not good for fitness, you know."

"Not actually true. Moderate drinking is no problem, but I guess you Americans watch the carbs all the time?"

"Don't get me started." Matt laughed, "believe it or not, but I got into the scientific side of things and did a few courses on nutrition. I'm certified and all. Gives me an edge over competitors and my clients appreciate that I'm 'not just a pretty face'." He laughed again.

"You're not just a pretty face," Vadim agreed, vaguely amused to have discovered what seemed a bit like a hang-up for the kid.

"Trust me, you don't want to hear me start lecturing on it, it'd probably bore you to death, and no, I rather be chiselled with less effort than have a drink. Easier to stop completely."

"You know I used to be part of the Soviet sport circus?" Vadim shrugged. "But that's not what we were going to talk about, right. Something else to drink?"

Matt sat down. "Got some water?"

"Sure. Still or sparkling? French, Scottish, or ... Hawaiian, I guess."

"Shit," Matt laughed again, "just water. Scottish will do. Sparkling." He watched Vadim busy himself at the bar, which was everything but mini. "I wanted to ask you about Hooch, and if I understand him right. The whole thing." Matt shrugged, while Vadim selected two bottles and poured them both water.

"I'm listening."

"Last time, after your phone call, it was ... I don't know. It was more than I expected and I didn't know what to do, or do wrong, or right, or fuck all." His language was still tinted with the Jarhead. "He usually goes to that club of his, but I ..." He trailed off, uncomfortable.

"You'd rather he didn't?"

"No, I'm okay with that, I think, and I'm okay with you, I just ... I just suddenly felt all possessive and at the same time didn't know what I was doing." Taking his water, Matt had a sip. "I don't have it in me, I got to accept that, just ..." he looked at Vadim with a confused expression.

Vadim met his gaze, then sat down, figuring that would be more 'matey', more friendly. "It's a completely different itch to scratch," he murmured. "The pain is different from the love. The love is different from the war. We're humans and humans can deal with contradictions, not like bloody computers. You love the man. He loves you." Vadim leaned forward. "What's the problem?"

Matt didn't hesitate. "I want to give him more of what he needs, because I ... really got off on it last time. But I don't know how, don't know if I'm doing it right, and don't know how to deal with the whole thing other than ignoring it, but ignoring has started to seriously piss me off."

Vadim was silent for a while, pondering the thought that the lover of his sometimes-lover asked him how to give the latter what he needed. "Try and visit the same club. Watch things. It's something that can be learnt. Like you pick up any skill. Stress positions, for example. You must have done that in the Marines?"

"Yeah, I know about shit like that. You think I can just use some of the stuff and transfer it? Hooch told me about his job, what he teaches, it's pretty much that kind of thing. The crazy stuff."

"See. That's a start. That's where I took it from. Well, inspiration at least." Vadim studied that face, the thick neck, the curve of muscles. "Guy once told me the bottom is in control. He is. He lets it happen. He trusts you. You give him what he wants. It's ... fairly selfless, actually. At least I ... I'm best after I got off." He gave a crooked little smile.

Matt smiled in return and nodded. "Guess I'm better at the selfless side of things, anyway."

"You wouldn't be here if you weren't," Vadim agreed.

Matt tilted his head. "Going to the club, I might do that, but I won't tell Hooch about it. He doesn't know what I'm talking about with you, nor that I needed to ask, also. I didn't tell him I got pissed off recently, neither that I'm sure I can do more than he thinks." He flashed a brighter smile, "that is, if I have any fucking clue what he thinks."

"It's guesswork for me, too, and he can drive me insane with that." Vadim grinned. "Dan gets quite a few clues from his various internet groups. He's ... pretty good at that game, too, but everybody has his own style. And it remains between us and in this room, no problem."

"Shit, of course, the net, should have done some more of a search myself." Taking a large mouthful of water, Matt grinned, with obvious relief. "Thanks, buddy. And for later ... you said the ball's in my court. Why?"

"Because it is." Vadim studied him. "Your decision... with that amount of innuendo, and my 'condition'," he shrugged. "It's better things are out in the open, so I don't misunderstand, or people misunderstand me. I have to make the constant effort to communicate, and that was my way of saying ... whatever ... is your decision."

"Dan is happy with whatever happens?"

"He sounded it. Or, in any case, he could either be convinced or suitably distracted." Vadim smiled. "There will be quite a few very attractive men at the party, too. It should be an interesting collection of characters."

"Yeah, sounds like my gym. Plenty of good looking gay men." Matt winked. "But, like, if Dan's okay, I'm okay, as long as we don't get into Hooch's stuff."

"Fine by me." Vadim half-emptied the glass and studied Matt again, smiling. "We haven't done anything like that in a while. Few guys I'm taking a deeper interest in these days. Might be my age, too. Or simply some of my issues."

"Yeah, but Hooch's here. And Hooch and you ..." Matt emptied his glass. "It'll be good with you and Dan, has been forever. You're old, but you're hot." Matt laughed.

Vadim stood, straightening up. "Good. I don't want to make you feel like a necrophiliac."

"I won't, and it does mean I can be certain I'm the best looking one."

"If you want to be the prettiest face ... go ahead."

"Not again!" Matt rolled his eyes but still grinned. "Where do you want to meet? I'm good."

Vadim measured him. "Guess that's either our room or yours ... beds should be about the right size."

"Right here? Now?" Matt sat up straight, hands on his shirt.

Vadim grinned. "I'll call Dan on the phone and make sure he brings Hooch."

"Okay." Matt cocked one brow, then proceeded to undress without the slightest reservations.

* * *

Dan and Hooch, downstairs, had ended up in conversation about civil rights, don't ask don't tell, Europe vs. America, and gay marriage, when Vadim called. Dan had his mobile on buzzer, and picked up.

"Hi Dan, you guys might want to come up to our room. Bring Hooch."

"Ok ..." Dan glanced across at Hooch and flashed a toothy grin, when he cottoned on straight away. He pushed a button to finish the call and grabbed the cane to push himself off the bench.

"Vadim wants us upstairs and I have the funny feeling that if we don't, we might miss something we'd regret later."

Hooch huffed a low laugh and stood up as well, following Dan.

* * *

Vadim watched Matt undress, and damned, he was trained to perfection, every muscle where it should be. He could easily be an underwear model, his body as clear an advertisement of his gym and nutrition as anything Vadim had ever seen. He flicked the phone shut and pulled the jumper over his head, slipping out of the leather shoes.

"So you do like what you see." Matt grinned from ear to ear as he let himself fall back into the comfortably upholstered chair, sprawling in all his stark naked glory.

"What, I fooled you?" Vadim opened his trousers and pulled them down, then placed them on the free chair. "Must be a better actor than I thought."

"In pretending to like what you see?" Matt's pose was that of a high class model, clearly provocative. One leg stretched out, the other on a nearby chair, knee bent and falling open, displaying 'the goods', which were no less groomed than the rest of his body. One hand casually resting on his roped abs, fingers splayed negligently, while the other arm lay along the armrest of the chair, presenting those finely honed muscles of his arms and shoulders to their best advantage. His body was smooth, waxed, except for some neatly kept pubic hair at the base of his cock. He was, to all intents and purposes, the picture of perfection. Thirty-five years old, and by no means the naive kid anymore, the Jarhead who'd shown Dan that kissing for fun and sex with laughter were a good thing.

He was about to say something, when the door to the room opened and Dan walked inside, immediately followed by Hooch.

Vadim turned, gave a smile, and continued to study that body, the easy grace - not soldierlike, nothing like that about Matt anymore. "He started it," Vadim murmured in mock-defence.

"I believe you." Hooch drawled, "I live with him." With the air of someone who was long-suffering, even though the hint of a grin spoiled the effect.

"How do you survive that?" Dan closed the door behind them, looking at the naked man in the chair. Holy fuck, the 'kid' was no kid anymore, but so goddamned perfect, he looked like coming straight out of a high class porn. "You're already forty-five, how do you deal with that?" He gestured towards Matt, as if he were an - admittedly incredibly arousing - piece of art.

"It's the military training." Hooch shrugged, "without it, I couldn't guarantee for my health."

Dan made his way closer to the chair, watched by Matt who remained in the same position, grinning, and oozing sex out of every pore. "What do you think, Vadim," Dan pointed right at Matt's cock, "what could we use that one for?"

Vadim studied it. "Many things come to mind, really. I guess we could simply see how calm and relaxed he is when he's begging to be taken down the throat, after some appropriate kissing and licking, of course."

"Aye ..." Dan glanced at Hooch, "you know him best, what would be best done with it?"

"The cock?" Hooch seemed to ponder, as he took the remaining steps towards them, standing beside Dan and Vadim. All three men looked down at the naked Matt on the chair. "Or the ass? He does like to get fucked, after all."

Vadim pursed his lips. "You think he could take three men?" He reached down to touch Matt's abs. "He's strong enough, I think. And I certainly would enjoy seeing his ass pounded."

Matt still didn't say anything and didn't seem likely to do so in the near future, but he pulled in a sharp breath at the touch, and his cock visibly hardened from the words.

"Look, he agrees." Dan pointed at the half-hard cock.

"He's quite a slut on occasion." Hooch flashed one of his miniature grins. "I once found him shagging with two guys, down in the gym, after hours."

Matt's eyes flashed at the spilling of secrets, and he let his head relax back a little, effectively baring his throat.

"Hmmm ... you think he's strong enough to take it standing? He looks quite solid." Dan leaned down to run a hand across Matt's pecs, taking his time with brushing over and teasing the nipples, causing another sharp intake of breath.

"I think he is," Vadim agreed, "maybe if he faces a wall so he can support himself if it gets too hard for him." It was a wicked pleasure watching how Matt reacted to the words, how the ease was underpinned with tension, the sensuousness by arousal.

"I'd let him hold onto one of us, cock down his throat, to keep us entertained." Hooch mentioned casually, as if talking about the latest weapons development.

"I guess he would make a good pre-wedding present, wouldn't he?" Dan leaned closer, dropped his hand to Matt's cock, merely brushing along its length, watching it harden rapidly.

"Aye." Vadim leaned it to kiss, then bite a nipple, which caused Matt to jump and let out a hiss, while Vadim murmured against Matt's skin. "You guys are overdressed."

"So are you," Dan quipped, but without taking his eyes off Matt and Vadim, he got out of his clothes in record time, pulling a chair close to take the weight of his knees while being close. Stroking Matt's legs, arms, torso, wherever he could reach. Stroking and teasing, arousing.

Hooch went slower, more deliberately, but when he was naked, he leaned over Matt, who had let his head fall back on the backrest on the chair, fully baring his throat. With a remarkably tender gesture, he caressed Matt's face, smiled at him, and their eyes met for moment, before Hooch dove in for a demanding kiss.

The kind of kiss that never featured in porn movies, Vadim thought, suddenly breathless from Hooch's intensity, even if it was directed at somebody else. He shed the remaining clothes and concentrated on Matt's chest, biting and sucking those nipples, rolling them between his teeth, moving from a tease to what would have been pain if Matt hadn't been turned on by it. Matt's chest heaved, breath fluttering with the attempt to remain calm, but the sound that was swallowed by Hooch kiss was so goddamned sexy, it charged the atmosphere in the otherwise still room.

Three men breathing, the fourth one increasingly frantic, and another sound escaped, far more desperate, when Dan leaned closer to lick along the length of Matt's cock. He teased the slit, taking his time while pushing his palm against Matt's hip to keep him down in the seat and prevent any attempts to thrust up and towards Dan's lips.

Vadim watched that from the corner of his eyes - Dan on another man, and he knew exactly what it felt to be on the receiving end, knew exactly how Dan drove another guy wild. He brought up a hand to lay it flat on Matt's stomach, placing pressure there to keep him still, then, as he was sucking on one nipple, twisting the other, he took hold of Matt's knee and pulled his leg up and to the side, opening the younger man further.

It was Hooch who pulled back from the demanding kiss, leaving Matt to make small, suppressed noises, that went straight into Dan's cock, while he was mercilessly teasing the one between his lips.

"I think he's ready." Hooch drawled in a low, husky voice. "Question is, who wants him first? Which one of the two grooms?"

Vadim glanced up, but Matt still said nothing, eyes almost closed, lips parted and glistening from Hooch's kissing. Breath coming fast and shallow, his hands had curled into the armrests of the chair, and he was more lying in than sitting. Pliable, passive, utterly gorgeous. The perfect gift.

Vadim felt a shiver pass through him - he hadn't had him, that first 'meeting' had somehow put up a wall, and he'd never have expected that would ever become an issue. All those years later, it suddenly did. He glanced at Dan to gauge his reaction. "I wouldn't mind," he murmured.

Dan nodded, then moved his head to lick across Matt's shuddering abs, and up the chest. When he reached the nipples, Matt lifted his head, cast one glance at Vadim with an almost imperceptible nod. His next reaction was a gasp and his eyes closed when Dan bit and then sucked on a nipple, before he pulled back.

"All yours." Dan murmured with a gesture towards Hooch, and a glance at Vadim. Hooch slipped his hands underneath Matt's shoulders and pulled him up to stand, then made him turn around, until he stood over the chair, facing Hooch.

"Bend down." Hooch's voice was low and goddamned sexy, the arousal lent it a husky quality.

Matt complied, and Dan stood up, taking a good look at the offered arse, with a sharp intake of breath at the perfection before him. "I'll do the honours." He went to get condoms and lube.

Vadim placed both hands on Matt's back, stroking, then kneading the muscles, bending down to kiss his neck. Still strange, as he was Dan's lover, and, on several more levels, Hooch's lover. When Dan offered him the lube and the condom, he took the condom and stepped a little bit sideways. "Open him up for me," he murmured to Dan, meanwhile getting the condom out.

Hooch was watching them, stroking the back of Matt's neck, his shoulders, carding his fingers through the dark hair. Eyes intently on Dan, who got a generous amount of lube onto his hand, warming it slightly, before placing his scarred left hand onto the small of Matt's lower back, the right slowly entering with one finger, but quickly adding a second, while Matt let out a low moan.

Vadim rolled the condom down; no question, safety first, watching Dan get Matt completely ready - it seemed like the right thing to do, less weird now, less loaded with past and unpleasant memories. When Dan nodded at him, he stepped closer, took hold of himself and positioned, then began to thrust in, more a slow easing, leaning into the other's solid body, slow, but inevitable, and Matt's reaction was sparked like a fuse exploding through electricity. He reached for Hooch instead of the chair, digging his hands into Hooch's hips, the way the fingers curled into muscles and bones had to be painful, but Hooch merely took in an audible breath, when Matt nuzzled his face against his now fully hard cock. Hooch's eves never left the scene, watching every detail, each movement.

"I don't think we should make him cum." Dan commented. He once again reached for Matt's nipples, playing with them almost casually.

"No, you are right, but he should keep me entertained." Hooch murmured, pulled back and nudged with his cut cock against Matt's lips, which immediately opened, pushed forward and down the length of the cock with Vadim's next thrust. And seeing that tightened Vadim's guts, sexy, yes, knowing what that felt like, how a second cock really changed everything. He took Matt's hips, to stabilize them both and to make sure Matt wasn't driven too far. Hooch did the same to Matt's shoulders, as Vadim began to thrust properly, deep, forceful, carefully measuring how much Matt needed right there.

The sounds that Matt made, muffled by his lover's cock, were some of the sexiest that Dan had ever heard, and he sat back down, watching the scene, while never taking his hands off Matt's chest and nipples, adding to the overload of sensations, but otherwise a spectator, turned on by sounds, sight and smell.

Matt was starting to shudder when Vadim was thrusting harder and Hooch, who had himself under remarkable control, keeping close but never too close, warned Vadim. "He cums from getting fucked." A glance at Dan, "stop him."

And Dan understood, reached for Matt's cock, hard and wet with precum, and he squeezed hard at the base, cock and balls, almost brutal, acting as a cockring to stop Matt's orgasm, who nearly screamed against the cock in his throat, bucking backwards and into Vadim, trying to get off.

"Bad boy." Hooch murmured breathlessly, with a half-grin.

Vadim grinned and stilled, forcing himself to pause. It cost him a lot, but he managed, shuddering, very nearly there himself, but forced himself to wait for Matt to calm down, and with a huge effort, pulled free, while Matt groaned and protested, but had no choice, than to accept. Vadim evaded his own climax, because that way there would be more fun, more need, more lust. "Dan? Your turn."

"And you?" Dan looked up and pointedly onto Vadim's rock hard cock, while letting go of Matt's cock and balls, who groaned, but was muffled the next second, when Hooch pushed his cock back down the willing throat.

"I'll watch." Vadim stepped closer to Dan, who was surprised when Vadim grabbed his neck passionately, and kissed him deeply, pressing against him. No man. No other man, but this one, right here.

When Vadim pulled back, Dan smiled at him for a moment, while feeling dark eyes intently on him. He didn't need to turn his head to know that Hooch was watching him. A sound from Matt brought him right back to the man whose smooth and muscular arse was invitingly open, bared, loosened enough to be fucked without preliminaries.

Matt was letting out whimpers, of need or anger, or lust, or discomfort, was not clear but it didn't matter, because all that counted was the sound, the movement of the body and the way Matt tried to lower his shoulders more, despite the cock down his throat, and to lift his arse up higher and spread his legs even further. This man wanted to be fucked, and Dan never took his eyes off the body while getting a condom onto himself.

More lube, steadying, knees, body and Matt and Dan thrust forward, up to the hilt, all the way, and Matt screamed against the intruding cock, yet pushed backwards, as if his body begged for more.

Vadim shuddered, still standing close, almost close enough to brush Dan. He felt his heat and the heat of Matt, smells and sounds overwhelming, and he wished he'd finished, watching Dan thrust, the hip muscles, and the cock that slid in and out, hypnotic, intense, unbearably sexy. Like Dan, though, he took hold of Matt's cock, squeezing the base to keep him from reaching the peak, but brushing Matt with his own cock. He pulled off the condom and just enjoyed the brush of heated, smooth skin.

Eventually, Hooch pushed away, whole body tense, too close to the edge. The moment his cock slipped out from between Matt's lips, the sounds Matt made filled the room, drilling down into Dan's mind and guts and balls, making him speed up and increase his grip on the lean hips.

Matt's body was covered in a sheen of sweat, pooling in the small of his back, and Hooch reached forward, as far as he could, to run his hand through the sweat, and to slowly, deliberately, lick it off his fingers, first looking at Dan, whose eyes widened, and then at Vadim, intensely fixing him with dark eyes.

Dan's thrusts became erratic, speeding up, violent with his need, as the orgasm drew closer and he was taken in, body and mind, by the heat, the tightness, and by Matt's responses. The scent of fresh sweat, the body that begged for more and held its own by the strength pitted against Dan's. When he came, he thrust uncontrollably, letting out a deep groan. Shuddering while staying inside Matt's body, hands leaving visible impacts on the buttocks and hips.

"I think ..." Dan managed to get out, still shaking with the aftershocks, "it's your turn." Looking at Hooch.

Matt whimpered, groaned, let out unintelligible sounds, as Dan pulled out to discard the condom. Matt was out of it, and despite being doubtlessly sore, he was begging for more, the desperation was palpable.

Hooch's voice was so husky, his drawl was close to being just as unintelligible as Matt's sounds of lust. "Get him to suck you off." To Vadim.

Vadim didn't protest, just released Matt's cock and took Hooch's position, supporting the man like Hooch had done, offering his cock to Matt's lips, who eagerly took it, sucking down as far as he was offered, muffling those sounds once more, and Vadim couldn't help but stroke the head, neck, sweaty and hot. There was no force, no darkness, just passion and tenderness, respect for the one who took all this.

Dan sat down, within reach of Matt once more, marvelling at the hard cock, purple, straining, slick with precum, and he touched it lightly, causing Matt to jump. Dan grinned, shook his head and murmured "no". He knew Matt well enough to realise he wouldn't need a hand. When he looked up, he saw Hooch move forward, bareback, no condom, not with his own lover. An intimacy and distinction which touched Dan deeply. Hooch poised, didn't slick himself up either, instead forced himself to wait, and used his fingers to enter Matt, drawing more muffled screams, as he angled, searched and found the prostrate. Knowing this man so well, each reaction, every want and need, he caused Matt to buckle and almost to break down, had Dan not reacted and held him up, and had Vadim not grabbed his shoulders. The too-intense sensations that Hooch's manipulations caused Matt, made him swallow Vadim's cock further with each jolt, almost getting Vadim off without any conscious effort.

Hooch finally pulled out his fingers to replace them with his cock and the way he thrust forward, the speed and angle, told both Dan and Vadim that he'd known and used and had this body for many years, giving and receiving lust in perfection, pushing Matt further and further towards the edge. Matt and himself, and the look on his face was far away and utterly concentrated, almost distant, as he fucked that body without holding back.

The tremors from Hooch's thrusts pushed Vadim further, and there was really no reason now to hold back, instead pushing carefully into the wet heat, feeling the body being rocked by Hooch's motions, strangled sounds and responses from Matt. Dan's watched the scene, all that combined to a heady mixture of lust and need, and it didn't take long for Vadim to cum, with Matt taking all of that. Vadim remained standing, only to support Matt, watching Hooch fuck his lover, while catching his breath.

Hooch's eyes were closed, face utterly concentrated, before all of a sudden his eyes opened, staring down at Matt, as he did the impossible, increasing the ferocity of his fucking. Truly letting lose, a wild, complete abandon with reckless viciousness of powerful thrusts and sharp snaps of his hips. "Come!" he pressed out, then another brutal shove and twist, before nearly completely pulling out, then slamming back in. "Now!"

Matt, who'd been swallowing still, lifted his head, and Vadim's cock slipped out. He threw his head far back into his neck, hands digging into Vadim, as he let out a cry, eyes staring blindly at nothing, body, mind, lust and need, letting go and crashing into oblivion. His orgasm ripped through him, shaking his whole body, arse clenching and milking Hooch's cock, who followed suit nearly simultaneously, like a well-honed machine, a couple, two men, whose bodies were in sync and whose lust was one.

Hooch was panting, yet had himself almost immediately under control again, pulling out mere seconds after cumming, when Matt simply collapsed, slumping down onto the chair, which had been soiled with Matt's cum, and threatened to tumble backwards.

"He'll crash for a while." Hooch's voice was still breathless, even though his hands were already on Matt, joined with Dan's, holding the exhausted, sweat drenched, naked body up. "He always does that." Tenderness was evident in Hooch's words, despite their huskiness.

Vadim gave a short laugh. "Who wouldn't …" He glanced around and spotted his chance. "I'll have a shower," already heading there, then paused. "If anybody is desperate, I'd be willing to share."

"I would, but I'll stay with Matt." Hooch gave a half-smile, then concentrated on the limp body in his arms and hoisted him across to the huge bed.

"Take your time," Dan commented with a smile, when Hooch climbed onto the bed beside Matt who was out like a light, deeply asleep. "We'll head to the bar after a shower."

"Yeah." Hooch drawled, before gently gathering the sleeping body close. No doubt he'd done that many times, and the intimacy and affection was an easy one.

When Dan entered the large and marbled bathroom, the shower was already running. "Not a bad pre-wedding present, aye?" he grinned at Vadim and joined him under the luxuriously hot spray.

Vadim squeezed some shower gel into his hand and began to wash Dan, letting the water sluice off the foam from his own body. "No, not bad at all. Never would have thought it would come to this, but …" He smiled. "It's appreciated."

Dan grinned, "aye, never thought I'd see Hooch 'in action' again. Quite impressive." He winked, and then both of them enjoyed the intimacy of washing and sharing that heat. They took longer than was strictly necessary to get clean and refreshed, and repeated the same with towelling. They got dressed and after a last glance at the two men on the bed, who appeared oblivious to anything, they headed downstairs to Hadrian's, the hotel's brasserie, to relax, have a drink and a bite to eat.

Special Forces Chapter LXIX: Good Times and Bad
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 March 2009