Don't Ask, Don't Tell

by: Dash (permanentlymatts@yahoo.com)

 

 

My sincere thanks to my wonderful, patient and understanding betas, AJ.  They are able to smooth, polish, deal with panic attacks and read my mind like only brothers can.  My sincere thanks to my other wonderful and very understanding beta, Kel.  She is able to make corrections and suggestions without ever forgetting to allow my own voice to come through.

 

And, as always, my love and thanks to M, without whom I am less of a man and can't pronounce hoah :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

He could hear them for several long minutes before he could actually see them through the crack in the door.  The sounds of their shouts and short gun fire bursts echoed through the empty building.  He pressed himself further into the back of the closet where he was hiding and winced as his leg scraped across the floor, causing fresh blood to ooze from beneath the temporary bandage.  He fingered his gun, but knew that if he was found it was worthless.

 

"Encuéntrelo!" a voice in the hall shouted.

 

He could hear the door to the room burst open, the wood splintering as the primitive lock gave way against a solid kick.  A second later, gunfire erupted, shattering wood and glass and plaster as the new arrival sprayed the room and furniture with bullets.  Inside the closet, he cringed and drew up into a tighter ball as four holes appeared above his head and wood chips rained down.

 

"No! Nosotros lo queremos vivo!" the same voice commanded as he rushed into the room.

 

'Alive', he thought silently, 'they want me alive'.  Glancing at the gun again, a brief, flickering thought of denying them that privilege crossed his mind.  The thought vanished almost before it was formed and a second later it was irrelevant as the closet door was kicked open, slamming into his foot, jarring his wounded leg.  He cried out, unable to stop himself

 

"En aquí, capitán," the solder sneered as he saw him curled up on the floor.

 

Struggling to maintain the last shred of dignity, he bit down hard on his lip and hoisted himself into a standing position, ignoring the pain in his leg as met the soldier eye to eye.  "David Pennscott.  Major, United States Army, 52468796.  Under the terms--"

 

"That is all very nice, David Pennscott, Major, US Army." A lightly accented voice came from behind the solider, interrupting his prepared speech. The Colombian captain smiled coolly at him as he stepped into view and continued, "but I'm afraid you are a long way from Geneva and their rules really don't apply here."

 

Pennscott had a moment to register the movement of the solider before the butt of the gun was raised and hit him across the temple, sending him into darkness.

 

 

 

 

Struggling through the darkness, David tripped slightly over his own feet, the pack on his back jarring him and causing him to stumble again.

 

"Steady man," a voice from the darkness cautioned, grabbing the edge of the backpack and keeping him upright.  "We've got a long way to go, and I don't think a bruised knee is going to make this any more enjoyable."

 

"Thanks," he said as he regained his balance.  Picking up his pace again, he jogged silently alongside the new man.  A break in the clouds allowed moonlight to shine down on the road and he glanced at his companion.  "Thanks again for helping me back there," he said, nodding his head.

 

"No one gets left behind," the other man replied simply, and then flashed a smile, turning the often-quoted phrase into a sincere statement.  "Besides which, the guys I was with couldn't keep up with me and it's a bit lonely out here alone.  I'm glad for the company."

 

David nodded. "I know that one." Falling silent again, he concentrated on his breathing, trying hard not to think about the miles behind him and the miles in front of him.  'It's like boot camp,' he thought.  'You focus on the task at hand, on the here and now.  Don't look ahead, don't think about what's in front of you, focus on this moment and each step right in front of you.'  His new companion was setting a strong pace and, unwilling to fall behind and prove in some way unworthy of the other man's earlier help, he dug deep and pressed on.

 

Two hours later, as the sun was barely starting over the horizon, the lights of the camp came into view. Sensing his companion's final push of speed, David surged ahead at the same time and they finished the last quarter mile at a full run.

 

The Colonel in charge of the Unit stood to one side, watching them come in and drop their packs on the ground before they straightened up and saluted sharply.  "Congratulations men, you are the first to arrive. And with an outstanding time, one of the best I've seen."  He nodded at both of them.  "Go on in. The medics are waiting,  if you need them. Otherwise, make sure you get something to eat."

 

"Thank you, Sir," David replied, echoing the man next to him and then turned and led the way into the mess tent. As he loaded up his tray up with eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast, he was happy to see that his companion was right behind him, following him to the table and sitting down across from him.  "I try not to eat with people I don't know," he said as he put his tray down, and held out his hand. "David Pennscott."

 

The other man smiled. "Yeah, I guess after spending all night together, names would be good."  He shook the offered hand.  "McAlister, but please, everyone calls me Mac."

 

David grinned. "Bad first name?"

 

"Mother's maiden name.  She was bound and determined for it to live on and when she couldn't get my father to change his name …" He shrugged helplessly.  "It's been a hassle at times.  Mac stuck in elementary school, thank God."

 

"It's a pleasure to met you Mac," David said, "and thanks again for your help on the road."

 

"Not a problem and it's a pleasure to met you too, David Pennscott."

 

 

 

 

"It's a pleasure to meet you, David Pennscott," a smooth voice said.

 

Struggling to lift his head from where it rested against the wall, Pennscott blinked hard at the figure silhouetted in the bright doorway.  "US Army, serial number…"

 

"Yes, yes, yes, we know all that already," the voice said as he flicked a switch, instantly flooding the cell with bright light.  "But I'm looking for new information now." 

 

"I don't know anything," Pennscott said simply, staring at his captor.

 

The jailer smiled. "Now, I'm sure that's not true.  I'm sure that if we just talk about it for awhile, your memory will improve.  Maybe something to drink? Eat? Treatment for your leg?"  He snapped his fingers and another soldier appeared carrying a tray with a plate of sandwiches, a first aid kit and a steaming pot of liquid.  Placing it silently on the table bolted to the wall, he glanced at the man in charge and then, receiving no further instructions, hurried from the cell.

 

Watching him impassively, the American said nothing.

 

"Oh, excuse me, where are my manners," the other man said with a slight bow. "It's been a busy 48 hours, with your arrival and such.  Please allow me to introduce myself. You may call me Carlos. May I call you David?"

 

"My name is David Pennscott, Major, US Amy, serial number 52468796 and under the rules of the Geneva Con…"

 

"I will take that as a yes," Carlos interrupted with a pleasant smile.  The smile faded and his voice grew cold as he continued. "And the next time I ask you for information, I would appreciate a different answer."  He took the plate of sandwiches from the tray and asked pleasantly, "Would you like a sandwich, David?"

 

"Convention," Pennscott continued as if the other man had not interrupted. "I request that you notify the Prisoner of War Committee of the International Red Cross and allow me to speak to their …"  His words were cut off as Carlos delivered a savage kick to his wounded leg.  Grabbing it with a cry of pain, his body instinctively curled up around the damaged area to protect it, and he broke out in a cold sweat.

 

"That was not the information I was looking for, David."

 

Struggling to catch his breath as the injured muscles spasmed, he gasped out, "That's all the information I have."

 

Carlos smiled at him, "Oh, I’m sure that's not true, my friend.  A bright boy like you, a leader among your men...  I'm sure that if you tried, you would remember more.  I think some peace and quiet would help, but don't worry, I will be back to talk to you again."  Picking up the tray, he carried it out of the cell, the door slamming shut behind him.

 

Lying on the hard floor, David concentrated on his breathing, taking slow, deep breaths and willing himself not to throw up, as wave after wave of pain pulsed through his leg and spread throughout his entire body. 

 

 

 

 

"I'm telling you, man, if you just focus on your breathing, you'll find this much easier," David said as he surveyed the shooting target 500 yards away. 

 

"I breathe just fine! It's this gun's fault.  The sight is all screwed up or something."

 

Shaking his head, he reached for the gun. "Sometimes that happens, Mac, you just have to adjust for it." Taking the rifle, he lay down beside his friend, squared up the sight and fired a single round.  "Looks good to me."

 

Mac looked through the binoculars and swore.  "Fuck. Dead in the center."

 

Flipping the safely on, he handed the rifle back. "Because it's your breathing, not the sight.  Come on, lay back down and let's go through this again."

 

"I breathe fine," he insisted, lying back down and resting his chest on the sandbags in front of the rifle rest. He yelped as the other man swatted him hard across the butt. "What was that for?"

 

"For being a stubborn Brat.  Just try it my way for 10 rounds and if you don't see a big improvement, I'll leave you alone and you can settle for an acceptable on your score."  He paused and watched his friend for a minute before continuing, "I guess an acceptable is good enough for you."  He bit back a smile at the stream of obscenities that followed his statement. "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth, solider?" he asked with a laugh.

 

Mac grinned back at him, saying sweetly, "Fuck you, Penn."

 

"Only after hours and off base," he shot back with another laugh.  "Now, are you done being a brat, and ready to listen to me?"

 

An hour later, only half listening to Mac's proud and excited praise for his help and wonderment over the difference that something as simple as breathing correctly could make, David pondered the earlier exchange.  It was the classical trap the Army's elite groups found themselves in, and there was no way to avoid it.  The groups actively sought unmarried, unattached men; married men, sole-providers for their parents or those with children were carefully and discretely by-passed. The men were encouraged to form close relationships with each other, to turn to each other for support and comfort.  Due to the grueling training and isolation from those not in a particular group, those relationships were natural and formed with almost no conscious thought.  Love each other like brothers, but don't *love* each other; Treat each other like the closest confidant and spouse but don't *treat* each other that way; Be close but not *close*.   The separation and distinctions for some men were clear as day and easy to follow.  But for others, more than the Army would admit, the separation was a hazy gray line that was easily crossed before the man even knew what was happening, if he even cared.  Loving and being loved in return were emotions too primal of human emotions to be denied simply because of the threat of breaking a rule.

 

"You're not listening to a word I'm saying." Mac said, stopping suddenly.

 

"I'm sorry, you're right," David apologized. " I was thinking about something.  What were you saying?"

 

The other man studied him for a minute before continuing, "I was saying that I'm heading out this weekend, to my cousin's wedding in Knoxville, and wondered what you're doing."

 

"Sounds like fun. I think I'm just going to hang around here.  I'm still not happy with my time on the obstacle course, so I'm going to run that a couple more times and see if I can shave off another minute.  I didn't realize you had family near here.  Are they coming to graduation?"

 

Mac waved his hand in dismissal of the idea. "No, I'm sure they're not.  It's a long drive and I'll be seeing them this weekend.  Not a big deal."  As they neared the path that angled up to the dining hall, he stopped. "Go on if you want. I've got a bit of a headache; I think the dust on the range got to me.  I'm going to skip dinner and get to bed, since I'm heading out early tomorrow.  Have a good weekend, and I'll see you Sunday evening."

 

"Oh, OK.  Be careful driving over those mountains," David ordered with a smile. "I didn't just spend two hours teaching you how to breathe just to see it wasted by a bad turn."

 

Giving him a mock salute, he replied, "Yes, Sir!"

 

David watched him heading back to the barracks and then, instead of going toward the dining hall, headed to the CO's office to request his own leave for the weekend.

 

The drive to Atlanta was an easy 6-hour trip down mostly empty interstates.  Not hitting much traffic until he crossed inside the perimeter of the city, he slowed his car down and was content to simply keep up with traffic instead of passing it.  Exiting into the midtown area, he found the hotel he used on his frequent trips and checked in.  David tossed his small overnight bag on the floor and, stripping down to his boxers, laid down for a nap in preparation for the late night to come.

 

Just past 9 o'clock, after a quick room-service meal, he changed into tight fitting jeans and long sleeve white henley.  The white shirt made his face look tanner and more golden brown while the jeans accented the legs and butt sculpted and muscled by years of running.  He took a credit card, his driver's license and room key, cash and several condoms and slipped them into a front pocket.  Quickly checking himself in the mirror, he walked out the door.

 

The bar was crowded already, the music loud and waiters dressed only in almost painted on jeans hurried through the crowd bringing bottles of beer and plates of finger food to their customers.  Standing just inside the door for a minute, David scanned the room, taking careful note of the different pockets of men and to see if anyone caught his attention.  The last time he was here a couple of months ago, he had hooked up with a nice guy named George and the resulting sex had been mind-blowing and question free.  Not seeing anyone in particular, he quickly found a spot at the raised bar and ordered a beer.  From his seat, he could scan down the crowd and hopefully find someone that looked interesting. 

 

An hour later, he was chatting with another guy about his age, each gauging each other and deciding if this was the person that they would go home with tonight.  

 

"So, what do you do for a living?" the man asked.

 

David shook his head and put a finger to the man's lips.  "Shhhh…. no business tonight.  It's Saturday and, Saturdays are just for fun.  Not work."

 

The man dropped his hand to the bulge in David's jeans.  "Is this what you mean by fun?"

 

"That's exactly what I mean by fun."

 

"That's my idea of fun, too," he said.  "What are the odds? That two men with the same idea of fun would hook up in a place like this?  They must be high."

 

"Astronomical," David agreed. He finished his beer before continuing,  "So what do you say?  Want to go have some fun?"

 

The man nodded. "Sounds good to me."  Pulling out a small popper, he cracked it and offered it to David with a smile. "Want some?"

 

David got up, shaking his head in disgust.  "Sorry, man.  I only have fun with guys who can do it naturally."  He headed to the dance floor, ignoring the man's indignant protests and was quickly lost in the swaying bodies and the music. 

 

By midnight, he decided that this trip had been a waste. He wasn't in the right mood.  No one sparked enough interest to merit more then a passing glance, and certainly not enough to go back to the hotel with.  Renting a nice porn movie and jerking off in the privacy of his room sounded more appealing then any of the guys here tonight.  He paid for his last beer and then headed to the restroom.  As he passed several moaning couples, he felt an unfamiliar wave of discouragement.  Definitely not in the mood tonight, too much on his mind with training and guilt over not working on the obstacle course like he had promised himself.  If he left first thing in the morning, he could be back to camp by one and there would be plenty of time to get in several laps.  He felt a surge of determination with his new plan of action and pushed open the bathroom door and stopped dead, staring.

 

 

 

 

Staring at the cell door, he watched it swing open the next day and Carlos walk in, again carrying a tray of food and the first aid kit to be placed on the ledge.  A man followed him, carrying a wood chair and placed it in the center of the room.

 

Walking over, the jailer extended a hand. "Get up, please, and come sit on the chair.  The stone floor is cool and we wouldn't want you to catch a cold."

 

Pennscott hesitated for a moment and then grasped the extended hand and allowed himself to be pulled up.  His injured leg protested the movement, sending fresh shots of pain through him as he hobbled over to the chair and sat down heavily, panting slightly and again sweaty with the exertion.

 

Carlos took a bottle of water off the tray and, after making a show of cracking the protective seal, opened it and handed it to the solider.  "Here, drink up, my friend.  I’m sure you must be thirsty."

 

Swallowing his defiance, David took the offered bottle and drank thirstily.

 

"There's plenty more where that came from," Carlos told him pleasantly.  "I can get you first aid for your leg, maybe even a doctor to come in and look at it properly.  Food, a shower, fresh clothing... All I need is a little information about your group."

 

Pennscott didn't bother to reply, simply watching him slowly pace around the cell.

 

"So tell me, my friend," Carlos turned to him once again, "we know that your group arrived in Bogotá last Friday.  Why did you come here?"

 

"I don't know," he said calmly, still watching the man.

 

Carlos shook his head and gave a small smile, "No, surely you do.  You're a leader of your men. I'm sure that you do know. And, just as surely, I know that you will tell me.  Just a simple word is all I need.  Was it support?  Assassination? Kidnapping? Rescue?  Recognizance? Just a simple word, David, that's all that's needed."

 

The other man locked his jaw and stared straight ahead.

 

Giving him another small smile, Carlos called out in the direction of the door. "Juan, Andre, come in here please."  Then, turning back to Pennscott, he said, "Maybe some additional company will help make you feel more like talking."

 

He steeled himself as two large men entered the room, one of them carrying two pairs of handcuffs and ankle manacles.  By swallowing hard, he managed to bite back any sound as the cold metal bit into his wrists and his arms were quickly restrained behind his back, firmly attached to the chair.

 

"Leave his legs for now," Carlos said as one of the men bent to attach the ankle cuff.  "I don't want to harm our friend, simply give him a small taste of how we can treat him if he doesn't cooperate." 

 

The large man nodded and stepped back, clasping his hands in front of him in a relaxed pose.

 

 

The jailer turned back to David and still smiling, backhanded him hard against the mouth, then quickly repeated the motion to the other side. David's head jerked violently, first one way, then the other, and blood instantly appeared at the corner of his mouth.  "Just a small taste, my friend. I would much rather talk like gentlemen than have to resort to such …" he paused as if searching for the word, "unpleasantness."

 

"David Pennscott, Captain, United States Army, 5246 …"  His words were cut off as he was backhanded again.

 

"I believe I warned you about not giving me new information." Carlos shook his head sadly.  "I'm sorry to see that you didn't believe me.  I guess I will need to show you how serious I was."  He leaned in closer, almost whispering into Pennscott's ear, "I promise you, I don't lie."

 

 

 

 

He leaned in closer, almost shouting into David's ear to be heard over the noise of the band. "Let's get out of here.  I think we have a lot to talk about."

 

David nodded and followed Mac through the club and out onto the street.  For one paranoid moment, he glanced around, half expecting a team of MPs to be waiting for him outside.  "Did you drive here?" he asked as they walked into the parking lot.  "I walked. I've got a hotel room a few blocks away."

 

The other man nodded,  "Yeah, I have my car. I'll drive."  He didn't say anything further, just unlocked the car doors and then, once they were both settled, put it into gear and took off.

 

"Do you know where you're going?" David asked as Mac made several quick turns and headed into a residential neighborhood.

 

"Yeah, I grew up in Atlanta. I know exactly where I'm going.  I'm starving, how about you?"

 

Looking at him, still struggling to comprehend the rapid turn of events the evening had taken from opening the bathroom door just as Mac was leaving to speeding through a darkened neighborhood and talking about food.  "Yeah, I'm hungry, I could get something to eat."

 

 

The car emerged from the quiet, tree-lined street into a major intersection near one of Atlanta's many interstates.  Mac turned left and, a moment later, pulled into a brightly lit Steak N' Shake.  "24 Hours a day, and I would love a milk shake right now," he said with a grin as he got out of the car.

 

David trailed behind him, noticing, for the first time, the tight black leather pants and black t-shirt the other man wore.  Unlike his slightly stunned feeling, Mac seemed both happy and excited, buoyant with the discovery of his best friend in a gay bar.

 

They slid into an empty booth and looked around.  The place was full of high school and college age kids, along with a few older couples.  No one was paying any attention to them, or seemed to notice their arrival. 

 

"Relax, Dave," Mac ordered with a grin.  "Get a steak burger and a milk shake and we'll talk."  Seeing a ghost of a smile cross his friend's lips, his own smile widened. "I bet if you concentrated on your breathing it would work better."

 

A quick laugh escaped David's lips, and he took a deep breath and let it out, visibly willing himself to relax.  Mac's casual acceptance of the situation was catching, and he found the knot in his stomach lessening.

 

After the waitress had taken the orders and delivered their drinks, Mac leaned forward. "Hell of a surprise, wasn't it?" he asked casually.

 

 "You can say that again," he agreed.  Then, flicking the straw wrapper at him as Mac opened his mouth, he added, "Brat," with a laugh.

 

Mac laughed too and then glanced down at the tabletop for a moment before looking up.  "I have a confession to make."

 

The knot in David's stomach tightened again. "What?"

 

"I saw you there about three months ago. I was sitting in the bar and you were on the dance floor with some black-haired guy, almost going at it right there."  He blushed as David blushed. "I was kind of disappointed that you were already spoken for that night. I was interested, but that guy never left your side and then you disappeared.  I never got a chance to approach you."

 

David thought about the information for a second. "So this was before we became friends - that you saw me, I mean."

 

"Yeah," Mac nodded, "about 2 weeks before I think; the timing is a bit hazy, but I knew who you were and everything, of course.  Camp isn't that big.  We just hadn't really been paired up together or anything."

 

"Did you know who I was that night on the road?"

 

Mac shook his head. "Nope, not a clue.  Imagine my shock when we got into camp that morning and I got a good look at you.  I almost choked on my coffee at breakfast."

 

David laughed. "Yeah, I'd think so."

 

They sat back as the waitress brought their burgers, fries and shakes, and the next few minutes were spent silently pouring ketchup and salt and pepper and taking their first bites.

 

"So, have you been going there long?" David asked.

 

"About a year I guess. There's another club I like a little better down in the Highlands, but tonight, I just wanted to go there for some reason."

 

"I'm glad you did."

 

Mac stopped eating, a fry halfway to his mouth and his wide grin returned to his face. "Really?"  The simple word seemed almost childlike in its wonder.

 

Nodding, the other man blushed again before admitting softly, "The main reason I went tonight is because of our exchange on the range yesterday.  I couldn't get you out of my mind and decided that some nice, meaningless sex would do it.  You were going to be gone for the weekend; it seemed like a good idea."

 

"How about some nice meaningful sex?" Mac asked.

 

David studied him for a second, struggling with a decision he knew would change the rest of his life and then went for it.  He smiled. "I think that would be even better."

 

"I can't promise that it will help you get me out of your mind, though."

 

"I don't want it to."

 

The weight of the decision gone, they both suddenly smiled and sat back, silent until David spoke again a minute later.  "So what are you doing here? What happened to the cousin's wedding?"

 

"Oh, that." Mac dismissed it with a wave of his hand as he finished his milk shake. "No cousin, no wedding, just a good sounding excuse. Otherwise, I didn't know how to come down to Atlanta for some R&R without any of the other guys wanting to come with me."

 

David chuckled. "Yeah, I can see where that would be a problem.  I solved it by just not saying where I was going."

 

"That works too," he agreed and then looked at the other man's empty plate.  "You ready to go?"

 

"I've been ready," he said honestly.

 

Back at the hotel, David looked up from kissing Mac. His voice rough and he was trembling slightly as he whispered,  "God, you taste good."

 

Reaching down, the other man unbuttoned his pants and pushed the tight leather down, kicking them off into a pile.  Then, working on David's pants, he said with a grin, "And you haven't even gotten to the best part of me yet."

 

He pushed him back so that he landed sprawled on his back on the bed and quickly stripped and stood in between Mac's legs and he bent down low, hands bracing for a moment on the man's knees while he kissed him deeply, their hard cocks bumping together gently.  "Let's just take care of that oversight right now, shall we solider?"

                       

"Yes sir."  A second later, he let out a deep groan as David's mouth moved from his lips to engulf his swollen cock.

 

Mac fingered the condom, looking at David sprawled over the bed. He lay in a half doze, his legs spread lightly and one arm tucked under his head, the other resting across his stomach.  Finally, he tossed it on the nightstand and lay down next to his new lover. He was also tired, and there would be time enough in the morning to enjoy each other again. He gently pulled the sheet and blankets up over them and quickly drifted off, only dimly aware of David rolling over in his sleep, muttering something, and pulling him in close so that they were spooned close together.

 

All too soon, the phone on the nightstand rang with David's 6 am wake-up call.  "God," he muttered, jiggling the receiver enough so that it lifted off the button and then back down, disconnecting the call and stopping the ringing.  The events of the last night flooded back to him and he rolled over and saw Mac blinking sleepily at him.  "Morning," he said quietly, worried that the events would take on an unpleasant air in the harsh daylight.  His fears were quickly wiped away as Mac rolled over on his stomach, cradling a pillow under his head, and grinned at him.

 

"Last night was great." He sighed deeply and hugged the pillow closer.

 

Spying out of the corner of his eye, the condom on the nightstand, he nodded. "Yeah, it was," David agreed. Spotting the condom lying on the nightstand, he hesitated, then asked, "Was there... was there anything else you wanted to do?"

 

Mac glanced at the nightstand as well, and raised an eyebrow. "Just one thing. I want you to fuck me, hard, fast, deep; so hard that when we're back on base tomorrow, I can still feel you and remember today. You think you're up to the challenge, soldier?"

 

Pulling Mac toward him, David kissed him, one hand stroking down his bare back and then resting on his butt.  "How about I make love to you, long and gently and deep; so good that when we're back on base tomorrow, you can still feel me inside of you and know how much I love you?"

 

"That'll work, too."

 

They shared a long deep kiss, tongues vying for space, until suddenly David released his lover's mouth to attack his neck before moving up to the sensitive area just below the ears.   Mac groaned deeply and arched his back, his legs spread so that the other man's fingers had full access to his opening.  His eyes were closed, and David could feel that they both were hard and ready.  He stopped his assault for a brief moment, long enough to roll them over so that Mac was on the bottom, spread wide, ready.

 

"God," Mac whispered, his eyes still closed and his body tense with desire and excitement.

 

"Are you sure?" David asked. "I don't think there's any going back after this.  This will definitely be a 'homosexual act'. We could be court-marshaled for this, dishonorably discharged."

 

Opening his eyes, Mac stared at him for a moment, then leaned up and kissed him. "I have never been more sure of something in my life."

 

"Me either," he agreed simply.  Reaching over to the nightstand, he pulled back slightly and quickly broke open the wrapper and rolled the condom on his hard cock and then fished into the drawer for the lube he had stashed the night before in preparation for his evening.  A thin coating covered the rubber a moment later, along with his right hand.  He leaned back down and began to kiss the other man again, this time more insistent and harder while his right hand went between them and began to tease his opening gently.   

 

Mac arched up slightly, his knees bent and wide on either side of David's body.  "Do it," he whispered roughly.

 

"Patience," David ordered with a smile, removing his fingers and causing Mac to groan again and arch his back even more.

 

The top sat back for a moment, catching his breath before he began the slow, gentle push inside. At the same time, he teased Mac's already hard cock with one hand, using the other to brace himself.  He could feel Mac's firm hands gripping him around the waist to help his balance and he knew that he would have finger-sized bruises as proof of their activity.  With one hard, final push that caused the other man to tighten his grip and cry out, he was fully seated inside.  The warmth and tightness nearly brought him to climax right then, but several deep, slow breaths brought him back from the edge.

 

"God," Mac breathed hoarsely, his body covered with a slight sheen of sweat, his eyes closed again.  "God this feel so good... so full."

 

David didn't reply, his concentration on slowly pulling out then slamming in again and again, brushing against the man's prostate each time and sending waves of pleasure through them both.  "Open your eyes," he commanded as he leaned in for a kiss.  "I want to see your eyes, your expression when you come and I come inside of you."

 

Mac obediently opened his eyes, one of his hands now stroking himself. "You better hurry then, old man, because that's going to be in about 10 seconds."

 

Speeding up his thrusts, no longer caring about hurting the man underneath him, David felt his balls tighten and that familiar sensation a moment before he came.  He leaned down and kissed Mac hard as his body pumped inside the other man, and he was rewarded a second later by the feeling of Mac coming on his stomach.

 

"God," Mac repeated. He shuddered slightly as David pulled out of him and collapsed next to him.  "Oh, God, that was good."

 

David stripped off the condom and tied it up, then tossed it into the wastebasket near the desk.

 

"Good shot," Mac praised, and then began to laugh at the look on the other man's face.  "I swear, man, I meant the basket, not … you."  He laughed harder.

 

"Good shot," David repeated, his mouth twitching as he struggled not to laugh. "Good shot! " 

 

"Great shot?" Mac choked out between chuckles.

 

"That's more like it!" David announced before lunging at the other man, kissing and tickling, causing a fresh wave of laughter and squirming.

 

They showered together and had sex twice more before they had to leave. Both times David topped, at Mac's insistence. "It's OK," he insisted when David offered to bottom, "is what I want. It's what feels right to me."

 

Not being a huge fan of bottoming, David willingly and happily accepted the agreement on their preferred positions.

 

 

Now as they raced up interstate 85, heading for the Carolinas and camp, his mind replayed the events of the past day.  It seemed almost unreal to him how much things had changed, how much his life had changed and the daunting task in front of them both as they struggled to integrate those changes into their world.  He glanced at the clock and noted that it was past lunchtime and his stomach was making itself known.  A road sign indicated a McDonalds at the next exit in a half-mile and he turned his signal on and moved over, checking in his review mirror to confirm that Mac had also moved over

 

Catching his lover's eye, Mac grinned and gave a little wave.  He couldn't remember the last time he had felt so happy, so alive and confident about the future.  He was sure that David wasn't so confident.  His friend … lover, he corrected himself with another grin, worried more and tended to over-analyze situations.  That would be one habit he would have to break him of, Mac thought as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot together.

 

"We just keep acting like we've always acted," Mac said after they had gotten their food and sat down.  "Seriously, Dave, it's not a big deal.  Everyone knows we're friends. Hell some of the guys are closer acting then you and I and I haven't heard any rumors, have you?"

 

David shook his head, reluctantly agreeing with Mac's analysis. "No, you're right.  God knows that Edwards and Brookstone seem to be almost Siamese twins, and it's just chalked up to good team building."

 

"Exactly." Mac took a bite out of his quarter-pounder.   "Plus, we'll be graduating in a couple of weeks and then we'll be assigned to base housing.  A lot of the guys end up getting off-base apartments together anyway, to save money. We can do that easily.  You put up a notice asking for a roommate, I can answer it and that will be that."

 

"Yeah, that would work.  You just need to wipe that grin off your face. You look like a man who had a great weekend."

 

Mac laughed. "Hey, I was at a wedding all weekend - open bar, half drunk women feeling resentful that they weren't married yet and desperate. Love was in the air!  I can't help it if I got lucky."

 

The other man laughed along with him, silently agreeing that the plan would work and admiring how Mac could make him relax.

 

"Plus, I think we have bigger issues to deal with," Mac told him sadly.

 

The knot immediately returned to David's stomach. "What?"

 

"You never take me out for anything more than a burger and fries. I'm afraid you're going to start thinking I’m a cheap date and just easy."

 

He stared at him for a second before bursting out laughing and flicking a fry at him. "God," he muttered, shaking his head.

 

Grinning at the reaction his joke got, Mac laughed back.

 

"Don't worry, we have plenty of time to try out new places and you can play hard to get all you want."

 

 

 

 

"We have plenty of time, David," Carlos said in a slow voice.  "They're not coming for you.  They have no idea where you are; they think you are dead.  It's been four days now and not a word."

 

Struggling to lift his head and met his captor's eyes like a man, Pennscott blinked against the blood running into his eyes and gasped as another fist landed into his side. His head fell against his chest and was immediately yanked back up by his hair, forcing it up and back at a painful angle.

 

"I'm sure your family has already been notified that you're dead.  Your girlfriend is probably crying over the telegram and planning your funeral right now," the Colombian continued in a conversational tone, as if discussing the weather.  "So you see, my friend, there's no need to go through all of this; it's all wasted and for nothing.  Your silence is worthless because we will get the information from you.  Now, why was your team in Bogotá?" He released the man's hair and his head immediately fell back on his chest.

 

No longer trusting himself to simply give his name, rank and serial number if he started talking,, Pennscott gritted his teeth and remained silent. He was afraid that once words started coming from his mouth, he would be unable to stop them.  His whole body ached and quivered against the onslaught of pain.  Forcing himself to block out Carlos's words, he began to count the stones on the floor.  One, two, three … the simple act of concentration took all of his energy, but also allowed him to enter into a trance where the continuing pain and voices were only a distant buzzing in the background.

 

 

 

 

David was only distantly aware of the buzzing of the light conversation in the background and the snap of photos being taken as he thought over the last two weeks.  They had been filled with arduous physical tasks that left everyone tired and aching, and exhausting metal exercises that were just as draining.  In between tasks, they'd had little time to themselves; only stolen moments here and there, words quickly spoken as they trudged back up from the rifle range, and three glorious and frustratingly short kisses in an empty shower room.  That was changing tonight, though.  They had received their new orders and, as expected, their entire unit was assigned en mass to the new base.  The Army was reluctant to break up units that trained together, knowing that the trust and intimate knowledge of each man's strengths, weaknesses and habits could be vital on a mission.  Three weeks leave had been granted to each man before they were scheduled to report at the end of the month.  To cover their movements, Mac had boosted loudly and often about his mother's home cooking and the party his family was planning for him when he got home.  And David had spoken about laying on a beach somewhere in Florida soaking up the sun and hopefully catching some lonely ladies on an early fall vacation - ladies who would be impressed by his uniform and the idea of sex with a solider.

 

In reality, David's vacation plans were the most truthful.  In three days, they'd meet at his parents' beach house on secluded St. George Island in Florida and would spend the next two and half weeks making up for lost time.  Mac's plan for David to advertise for a roommate had worked perfectly and several other men had arranged similar housing together after the word spread on how decrepit and thin the walls were in the bachelor housing at Ft. Campbell.

 

David was called to the podium last, his name being skipped during the alphabetical graduation ceremony.  As soon as his name was passed, several men around him grinned and gave him discreet thumbs up and approving nods.

 

"And finally ladies and gentleman," the colonel said as he reached the end of the ceremony, "please allow me to introduce the new unit leader, Captain David Pennscott. Captain Pennscott has shown consistent leadership, a fine eye for detail and has served as both an excellent friend and unofficial leader to his team and the entire unit throughout training."

 

The audience clapped enthusiastically as David made his way up to the podium, followed by catcalls and cheers of hoah  from his fellow teammates.  As he shook the colonel's hand, he glanced out into the audience and found his parents.  His mom was smiling tearfully and his father was beaming and he found himself grinning back.  Then, his eyes fell to Mac and he felt his grin widen at the expression on his lover's face.  As he made his way back to his seat, the entire group rose to their feet and began to stomp, the noise growing until it filled the auditorium and almost drowned out the colonel's words of dismissal.  In one motion, the hats came off and went into the air with a loud cry, signaling the end of one stage of their lives and the beginning of another.

 

 

 

 

He was unable to stop himself and he heard his loud cry echo in the small cell as his wounded leg was punched hard.  Retching, his stomach spasmed in dry heaves as waves of nausea washed over him.

 

 

"I think that's enough for now." Carlos' voice seemed to come from somewhere in the distance.  "Uncuff him, and let's give him some time alone to think about our questions."

 

He felt his wrists being freed but they were so numb that his hands hung limply, refusing to respond to his mind's commands to move.  A hard shove in the center of his back sent him sprawling from the chair and he landed in a graceless heap on the floor, unable to catch himself.  New waves of pain washed over him and he sank into darkness.

 

 

 

 

The waves washed up on the shores in a gentle swell, breaking and then retreating in an endless, unstopping pattern that still managed to be unique each time, no matter how long they watched.  Having breakfast out on the open deck had become a habit since the first morning and it was one that they both enjoyed.  It was just past nine and the morning haze was burning off, revealing another sunny day. 

 

Half of St. George was a protected bird sanctuary.  The other half had only one hotel and a few beachfront houses - private homes that stood mostly empty from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  The single grocery store had limited hours during the off-season and those that made St. George their home either shopped then or made a 40 mile one way trip across two bridges that rose high above salt marshes and connected the island to the mainland.  It was the perfect retreat for them.

 

Carrying the morning newspaper out to the deck, David sat down on the foot of the two-person lounge chair Mac was sitting on. He split the paper into their desired sections, Mac preferring to start the morning with the comics, while he preferred the front page.  They would switch fifteen minutes later and then repeat the process with the sports and business sections.

 

Mac smiled and nudged him with his bare foot. "I feel like an old married couple, Dave.  Like we have our own rituals and habits and stuff now."

 

David laughed. "That's because we do. But I prefer the term mature married couple, please."

 

"OK, mature it is," Mac agreed .

 

"Even though, I'm not sure mature is exactly the word I'd use for you," David added thoughtfully, pretending to think about it.  "Ouch!" he said as Mac kicked him again, harder this time.  He swatted at the foot and then grabbed it, pulling up and, causing Mac to slide down in the chair.  "No kicking, or I'll have to do something about it."

 

Mac laughed and kicked him with his other foot, then jerked the original one, back while his partner was distracted.

 

David lunged, sending the papers flying, and began to tickle his extremely ticklish lover, "You'll have to be punished for that, my boy," he said as they wrestled on the wide chair, Mac twisting under him.  Gripping the waistband of his boxers, David pulled them down, revealing a rapidly hardening cock.  "Ahhh."

 

"No Dave!" Mac cried, still laughing and wiggling underneath him. "Not out here!  Don't take me out here!  Anything but that!"

 

"But this is punishment for kicking me," he pointed out. He stopped tickling long enough to slide off his own boxers, then continued the assault..  "I can take you wherever and whenever I want because you belong to me."  His hand groped around under the chair and found the tube of lube left there from the night before.  Without releasing his hold on his squirming lover, he quickly popped the top and coated his hand and then his cock.  "Now, roll over," he ordered.

 

"Don't take me like that, Dave!," the other man protested, even as he rolled over onto his stomach, looking back over his shoulder. 

 

Moving down so that he was almost laying on top of the other man, Dave wedged a knee between Mac's legs, "Spread 'em and kneel up, boy.  Show me that you're willing to take it like a man." He felt the body underneath him move and heard Mac's choked back laughter.  Unable to keep up the act any longer, he laughed too and swatted the bare backside, now raised up and spread open, ready for him.  The muscles twitched with the impact and he quickly bent down and kissed the area.  "There, all better."

 

"No," Mac disagreed, his laugh muffled now, "it'll be all better as soon as you get that thick cock of yours deep inside me."

 

Shaking his head at his lover's rough words, knowing full well that it was as much of an act as the earlier protests, he positioned his cock so that it just pressed against the other man's opening and leaned low over his back. He kissed the side of Mac's neck and then started down toward his shoulder.

 

Mac moaned and quivered under his touch, trying to buck backwards to force the cock that was teasing his opening inside him, but David's weight and positioning held him firm.  "Oh, God, Dave! Just do it!"

 

With one last kiss, David pushed in fully with one savage thrust.  Mac bucked beneath him and almost collapsed with a cry at the sudden invasion.  Pulling almost completely out, he slammed back in over and over, the sound of his balls slapping against the other man mixed with both of their moans.  He could feel Mac jerking himself off in rhythm to his thrusts and he slowed down slightly, resting fully seated inside for a long moment before pulling out again and repeating the motion.. 

 

"No, faster," Mac gasped.

 

Bending low and stopping his thrusts completely, David kissed the back of the man's sweaty neck. "I’m in charge here, babe. I'll do it at my own pace and you can do nothing but submit."

 

"Oh, God," he moaned and shot hard onto the cushion of the lounge.

 

Grinning at the effect his voice had, he quickly allowed himself to be pushed over the edge also moments later, shooting deep inside, condoms abandoned their first night at the beach.  Still fully inside, he slowly caught his breath and started to pull out..

 

"No," Mac requested sleepily, "stay inside. Please."

 

Kissing him gently, David said, "Sure babe, for you, anything."  He pulled out slightly as his cock began to soften and he lay down to top of the other man and then rolled them to their sides so they were spooned up together.  Pushing himself back inside, he closed his eyes and fell asleep to the sounds of the waves and their own ragged breathing.

 

Later that morning, still curled up and pressed close to his dozing lover, David reflected over the events of the last week and their growing relationship.  For men who had become Men in a culture that thrived on order and routine and a set power structure, it only made sense that their private lives and relationships would follow a similar pattern.  Even though it was unspoken, he had noticed that Mac deferred to him in private, allowing him to take the lead for them both.  Some of it he thought might be because he was the new commanding officer of their unit but most of it was simply the other man's personality in private.  In public, with his own team and in the unit, he was an aggressive and dominant team leader.  In private, with just David, a new side of his personality emerged; one that was quieter, more laid back and submissive.  Stroking his lover's bare hip and giving it a gentle pat, he kissed the back of the neck softly, gently blowing on the short hairs and ruffling them.

 

"Hmmm, yeah Dave, like that," Mac mumbled, still mostly asleep.

 

David grinned and rolled away for a moment. His groping hand found the lube again and a moment later, he was hard and pushed back inside the other man.  "Your wish is my command. We can keep going like this every hour or so if you want, all day and all night."  He heard Mac laugh and felt him begin to respond to the gentle thrusts.

 

 

 

 

"We can keep going like this every few hours, David," Carlos said as he stood over the body on the cold floor.  "It makes no difference to me how soon you answer my question."  He paused and knelt down. "Such a simple question and one word, one tiny, little word is all that it will take to bring this to an end.  I can even make this simpler for you, all you have to do is say Yes when I name the reason your team was in Bogotá.  One little word is all that you need to say.  Just say Yes."

 

David trembled and his mind screamed at him to agree, to tell everything, to lie, to do anything to make it stop.  One little word, that's all it would take it.  What could it hurt?  Latching onto the first thought that went through his mind, he began to plan the next vacation he and Mac would take together.  Italy? France?  Concentrating hard, he was only dimly aware of Carlos speaking.

 

"All you have to do David, is just say Yes when I say the right reason."  Do you understand?"  He paused for a minute to give the solider time to answer.  When he didn't, he pressed on, "Was it support? …  Assassination? …. Kidnapping? ….. Rescue?   Ahh, so it must have been recognizance, right?"

 

'Maybe back to St. George Island,' he thought, 'but some place new would be nice, too.  England was always a good choice or Amsterdam and their gay-friendly clubs might be fun.' He was only remotely aware that the voice had stopped being friendly and now sounded angry. Very, very angry.  Hands yanked him up and the pain shooting through his body jerked him from the quiet cozy English B&B where he and Mac could spend all afternoon in bed together, back to the hot damp cell.  Metal cuffs bit into his wrists and he struggled to find the safe haven of that B&B in his mind again.

 

"It's such a simple word, my friend," the jailer said sadly. "I'm so sorry that you are having so much trouble with it.  Maybe with some additional lessons, you will improve.  Such trouble over such a little word."

 

 

 

 

"Get a grip, David!" Mac yelled at his lover as he followed him to the spare bedroom that served as Mac's cover bedroom but in reality was their office.  "One little word!  That's all I want from you!  Just give me one word!"

 

Rounding on the other man, David glared at him, his nostrils flaring as he struggled to regain his control.  "I've talked until I'm blue in the face, Mac!  I don't know what else TO say to you; nothing makes a difference!  So you know what, I'm just going to stop.  I've got nothing else to say. Dinner is in the fridge, help yourself." Slamming the door behind him, he couldn't help but see the pale face of his lover. He sat down heavily at the computer and absent mindedly wiggled the mouse to wake it up.  A few whirrs and beeps later, he was surfing the Internet.  His mailbox held nothing of interest. The note from his mother asking about his next visit did nothing but fuel his temper. Idly scrolling through Amazon, though, he felt his temper begin to cool.  Fifteen minutes later, he opened the door and walked down the short hall to the living room. 

 

Mac looked up from the couch, but remained silent as he entered. The TV was off, as were most of the lights.

 

 "I'm sorry I lost my temper, babe," Dave apologized..  "I was angry and upset, but I shouldn't have blown up at you."

 

"No, it's OK. It wasn't your fault.  It was mine.  I know you worry when I'm really late and don't call when our team gets back.  I could have taken 30 seconds to pick up the phone in the locker room and let you know we were running late.  No one would have noticed or cared, or even known I was calling you and not some date. I'm sorry I didn't cal." He started to hold out his hand, then abruptly let it fall, as if unsure whether the gesture would be welcome or not.

 

Moving quickly, David sat down and held out his arms.  He gave a contented sigh as Mac leaned into them and then wrapped his arms around his lover, pulling him in even closer.  "I'm sorry, too. I know freezing you out is mean and hits every sensitive area you have."  He felt the other man give a small nod against his chest and squeezed him gently before continuing.  "I won't do it again. It isn't fair and it's a hateful thing to do to someone I love so much."

 

Mac relaxed slightly. "I love you, too."

 

"We'll have work out a way to handle these kind of problems. I hate fighting.  We just need to establish some house rules and stick to them."

 

"And you can just beat my butt every time I screw up and forget to call, until the idea sinks in," he suggested simply.

 

David laughed. "Somehow I don't think that beating you is really the right way to deal with the situation."

 

The other man twisted around to kiss him. "I don't know. It always worked growing up.  My dad would take a paddle to me and I'd sure remember the next time I thought about breaking curfew or skipping class or smarting off to my mom or smarting off to my dad or …"

 

"OK, babe." David kissed him back. "I get it.  You were a bit of a hellion growing up."

 

"More than a bit," he said with a chuckle, "but I'm telling you, a few sessions with my dad and his paddle up in my bedroom sure managed to put the brakes on me more times than I'd care to think about."

 

Smiling over the image of his lover as an awkward, teenager rebel with warring angels on either side of his shoulders trying to convince him one way or the other, he gave him another kiss. "We'll talk about it later, babe, but don't worry. We'll figure it out. Together."

 

 

 

 

"We'll talk about it again later, my friend," Carlos said, "but I promise you. I will get the information I require."

 

No longer able to raise his head off the stone floor, Pennscott simply listened to the sound of the retreating footsteps and was grateful for the silence.

 

 

 

 

Slowly easing out of bed, David walked quietly across the bedroom, his footsteps silent on the carpet.  He glanced back at the bed just before shutting the door and was happy to see that Mac was dead asleep. One foot was free of the covers while the rest of him was buried under the warm down comforter.  Toggling the computer, he rapidly went to his favorite search engine and then paused.  His lover's words from the previous week still echoed through his mind.  Together, they had established a few house rules, and both agreed to live by them in an effort to make their relationship smoother.  Mac had nodded at that idea, saying that if their relationship needed anything else, it sure wasn't more complications or stress.  Taking a deep breath, David quickly typed in 'discipline spanking' and hit Enter.  His eyes passed over the routine and expected Pro- and Anti-Child Spanking Sites until they landed, half way down the page, on what looked like a personal site dealing with Domestic Discipline.

 

An hour and a hundred sites later, David sat silently, absorbing what he had read. Most of the sites he found dealt with heterosexual relationships, and the cheesy graphics or porn slant that many of them seem to take had almost made him abandon his search.  But, while scrolling through another endless list, a site that focused on gay men caught his eye.  Three links later, he had found exactly what he was looking for.  The webmaster had obviously been more interested in what the site said than how it looked and, judging by the lack of reciprocal links, had figured that those truly interested would find it somehow.  Despite the austere layout, the site was a treasure trove of discipline articles covering all of the major Hows, Whys, Whos and Whens.  And David had printed it all.  Now, as the printer finally finished, he sat there, staring at the wall behind the desk, lost in thoughts of his partner asleep across the hall and of this potential twist in their relationship.

 

 

 

 

Staring at the bottom of the wall, Pennscott watched a small beetle inch along the stone before disappearing into a crack no bigger then his finger.  He slowly began to ease into a sitting position, his muscles stiff with the cold and abuse, shaking with the simple exertion.  By the time he was sitting, he was panting slightly and a thin film of sweat had formed across his face.  Struggling, he tried to swallow back tears as wave after wave of hopelessness washed over him.  'This is stupid', his mind informed him, 'just tell him what he wants to know.  It won't hurt anything. It's stupid information, it won't change anything, it won't effect anything.  Just tell him!'   "No," he said hoarsely and was surprised to find that he had said the word out loud, and in at how good it sounded.  "I can do this," he whispered, again out loud, and hearing the words gave him strength, beating back the waves.  "It does matter. I am better then this. I can put up with this and I can get through it.  They haven't forgotten me and NO ONE," the last words were almost shouted and he felt a new surge of strength and energy, "NO ONE is left behind!"   He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, amazed at the feeling.  The hopelessness was gone and in its place, only peace and calm and strength remained. 

 

 

 

 

He looked at his partner with a small smile.  All the indecision and frustration from the last weeks was over and, now that he felt he had found the solution, there was nothing but a sense of peace and calm.  Knowing that he would need to be strong and sure, but not pushy, for Mac, he was quiet, allowing his partner to talk his feelings out.  The articles had been bundled together two days after they were printed and he had simply handed them to him as he left for a short mission.  "Just read these with an open mind, babe, and we'll talk about them when I get back," he had said with a quick kiss good-bye.  Now, five days later, they were talking about it.

 

"Do you honestly want to do this Dave?" Mac asked as they sat at the dining table, the stack of printed articles in front of them. 

 

David nodded. "Yeah, I do. I think it will work for us and I think it will make things easier."

 

Randomly picking up an article and flipping through it, Mac blanched slightly and tossed it back on the table.

 

The other man had to bite back a smile when he saw the title of the article Mac had grabbed, 'Benefits of Over-The-Knee Spankings'.  "Tell me what you're thinking?" he asked instead.

 

"I’m thinking that looks damn embarrassing and painful," Mac immediately shot back.  "I don't know," he said more softly when David didn't react to his outburst.  "It hurt like hell when my dad paddled me."

 

David nodded in understanding. "I'd think so."

 

"It was embarrassing, too, and I'd think this would be worse."

 

"Why worse?  I've seen your butt, Mac. I've had my hand on your butt more times than we can count."

 

Mac laughed. "True, but that's different."

 

"I don't know, babe, sometimes I'm doing it for you to feel good, other times for me to feel good, or for us to feel good.  I'd think with that time," he nodded toward the article, "it would be something that would *make* us good, stronger."  He emphasized the word and gently touched the back of other man's hand.

 

Nodding, he turned his hand over and grasped it, squeezing it hard.  "Yeah," he said simply.  Then, glancing at the clock, "Let's go to bed, it's getting late and I'm tired."

 

David glanced at the clock. It was only a little after 9, but he nodded anyway. "Sounds good to me. I'm tired too."

 

Later that night, after the lights were out and they were spooned together in bed, Mac quietly said, "You know one of the things that appealed to me about the army?"

 

"What?"

 

"I had always heard that the army treated its guys like children.  Lots of rules and regulations about everything, like we were too stupid to know how to eat or dress or even organize a drawer."

 

David chuckled, remembering the 3 Squares a day from boot camp and his first reactions to arm- issued everything, right down to his underwear and socks, and the black and white photos showing how to organize every little detail in his room.

 

"But, I don't think its like children" Mac continued softly, talking almost to himself.  "I think it's that we're treated like men; men who have responsibilities and jobs and standards and a duty to live up to those and a duty, as Men, and to face the consequences if we don't.  Children aren't held responsible for their actions, they don't face the true consequences of their decisions.  Adults have to and Men like us, have a duty to."

 

Not wishing to break into his lover's musing, David simply held him tight and listened.

 

"I think, as a man, as the kind of man that our relationship, and you, deserve, I have a responsibility to face the consequences when I fail to live by our rules.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, I know it will work.  The Army has instilled a lot of discipline in me, it's made me a better man and …" he rolled over and faced David,  "and now you and I are going to continue that work and make a better relationship."

 

He kissed him deeply, stroking his cheek, "You don't fail Mac.  You've never failed me and you never will. And I love you for who you are and don't want to change that at all."

 

 "I know," he said quietly.  "I know you don't want to change who I am, just sort of modify some of the behavior."

 

David chuckled, rolling them over so that he was on top of Mac, kissing him deeply while one knee began to nudge apart his legs. "Behavior modification, that's a good word for it."

 

"Don't forget," the other man said, leaning his head back to expose his neck, "part of behavior modification is rewarding good behavior, too."

 

"Don't worry, there will be plenty of rewards."  Dropping his hand onto the other man's cock and beginning to slowly stroke it, he continued, "Just consider this an early reward."

 

 

 

 

"Please consider this a sort of early reward, my friend," Carlos said in a friendly voice.  He held out a large bottle of water, the seal still intact.  "Drink up and then we shall talk."

 

Taking the bottle, Pennscott quickly uncapped it and drank slowly, allowing his system to get used to the idea of water after 36 hours without.  "Thank you," he said simply, nodding to the jailer.

 

Carlos smiled. "See, I knew you could talk.  I think in my country we sometimes forget the carrot and are too focused on the stick."  He watched for a second and then gently patted the man on the shoulder.  "Drink up and I'll be back in a few hours and we can have a nice chat then."

 

 

 

 

"Is this your version of the Stick and the Carrot?" Mac asked with a grin, lifting his head off the pillow to gaze at his lover.  It was Sunday afternoon and they both were home and celebrating their first week in their new arrangement with no problems. 

 

David rolled back from fetching the lube out of the nightstand drawer and glared at him. "Carrot? You are calling this a carrot now?"

 

The other man just laughed and grinned broadly.  His hand went down and stroked his own cock and then raised an eyebrow at his lover's own equipment. "Well Dave, I've never really wanted to say anything…"

 

The rest of his words were cut off as David lunged at him and clamped a hand over his mouth, while tickling him with the other. "Carrot, huh?  Insult MY boys, will you!"  Removing his hand, he quickly replaced it with his lips, forcing Mac's apart and roughly thrusting his tongue inside, claiming his lover's mouth.  His hands, now free, grabbed at Mac's and pressed them hard into the bed, holding them tight.  Still kissing, he rolled over so that he was completely on top and straddling the other man, before breaking it off.  He looked down. "Anything else to say?"

 

"Pickling cucumber?" Mac suggested before bursting into laugher.

 

David rose up on his knees and patted his lover's bare hip. "OK, that's it , roll over.  It's time I showed you what this giant, blue-ribbon winning, scale-tipping cucumber can do.  You need to be taught some manners and show these boys some respect."

 

"I can't wait," Mac said as he rolled over, still laughing.

 

 

Three weeks later, David glanced at the clock for the third time in ten minutes.  Mac's team had been training with rapid-drop parachutes and had been due back two hours ago.  Finally, five minutes later, he heard the front door open and he immediately muted the TV and looked up.

 

Mac slowly made his way into the room, his hair still damp slightly from the showers.  He gave an embarrassed half smile when he saw his lover waiting for him on the couch.  "Sorry Dave, the debriefing took forever and we were late getting back to start with."

 

"How long have you been back?"

 

Mac hesitated for a minute before replying. "About 90 minutes."

 

"And despite knowing that I know how dangerous this training is, despite knowing that I worry, despite knowing that I've asked you to call me when you can, just so I know you're safe, you didn't."

 

"Dave, you'd be notified if something serious happened!" he shot back defensively.  "It's not like I could die and no one would tell you."

 

"Is that the point?"

 

Mac shifted uneasily and glared at the wall for a minute before softly admitting, "No."

 

"So, if that's not the point, what is the point of you calling me?" David asked, his anger under control and his tone as patient as if he was speaking to a new private.

 

The other man huffed and looked as if he was going to argue for a moment, before giving a small sigh that seemed to dissipate his defiance. "No, that's not the point.  The point is that you worry when I'm out doing something dangerous and you like to know as soon as possible that I'm OK.  Because we both know that I could get hurt and no one would call for hours because they wouldn't think about it.  Ed would call just as second in command, of course.  And, it's not fair to make you worry and you've asked me to call when I can and I didn't do it."  He looked at his lover. "That's the point."

 

David got up and walked over to pull him into a strong hug and kiss him lightly on the cheek. "Yeah, that's the point," he said in a soft voice.  "Now, go ahead and go wait in the office for me. I'll be along in a minute."

 

"For what?" Mac asked, the question out before he could even think about it. 

 

"Because you didn't call and calling is one of our rules," David replied firmly.  "There are consequences to breaking the rules, Mac."

 

"But I got the point!"

 

David nodded. "I know, and I'm glad you did.  Hopefully, next time, you'll get the point before it's too late.  Five minutes ago was too late."  When the other man remained silent, he continued, his voice again low and gentle, "So now, you need to go into the office, remove your pants and shorts and wait for me.  I'll be along in a minute."

 

He started to open his mouth and then quickly closed  it.  Giving his lover a quick, single nod, he turned in a perfectly executed heel-toe and almost marched down the hall.

 

Watching him, David bit back the urge to give the marching command to by pass an object in the way, "Incline around sofa," as the other man passed their couch.  He watched until he saw him turn into the bedroom they used as an office and then he went into the kitchen for a drink of water.  Then, mentally reviewing the articles,, he poured a glass of juice and carried it into the office. 

 

Mac was sitting on the bed, watching the door and immediately jumped up when it opened.  His legs were muscular and tan beneath the olive t-shirt he still wore.

 

"It's OK, babe," David told him., "You can sit down." He walked over to the closet, opened a box sitting on the floor and took out a ping-pong paddle that had been carefully stripped down to bare wood.  They had bought two and sanded them both down so that the wood was perfectly smooth and had an almost satin like finish. Behind him, he heard his lover swallow and shift position slightly.  The articles had talked about initial punishments using a hand spanking but Mac had felt that a paddle was more appropriate.  David had secretly practiced on his own thigh until he felt comfortable using it. 'Like any instrument,' he had rationalized to himself, ' only a fool uses it for the first time in when it really counts.'

 

Mac started to say something but quickly stopped, shuffling his feet instead.

 

David tossed the paddle on the bed before pulling him up and into a hug. "You ok?  Anything we need to talk about?"

 

The other man shook his head before almost whispering, "No."

 

"Ok, then, let's get this over with."  Taking him by the hand and almost leading him to the bed, David sat perched on the edge of the bed at a slight angle.  One foot was resting on a small, low stool so that it was higher then its twin that rested flatly on the floor.  Holding out his hand, he carefully drew Mac face down at an angle matching his so that his upper body rested on the bed, while he was almost bent in half with his bottom angled and positioned perfectly over the slightly raised knee.  Pleased in some absurd way with how well the position worked, David gently stroked the bare bottom across his lap.  "Relax for me Mac," he said softly.  "This isn't something to endure, this isn't a test to fail or to get through."

 

 

Mac shifted uneasily. "I know. I'm trying, Dave, I really am."

 

Deciding that there would be time enough for talking later, David gave the bottom another pat and then picked up the paddle.  "We have rules in this house and in this relationship," he said matter of factly, trying to keep his voice even and without anger.  The articles had all stressed that this was no place for anger or accusations.  "When those rules are broken, there are consequences."  He gently tapped the skin with the paddle before raising it as he had done in practice and bringing it down sharply.

 

Mac gasped at the impact and clamped his mouth shut, allowing only a slight grunt to escape.

 

Raising the paddle again, David brought it down on the same spot once more before moving down.  With split concentration, he watched his lover, listening for his reaction and feeling the walls around his emotions start to slowly crumble against the onslaught of pain, while also watching where the paddle fell. He kept to a loose pattern of two swats per spot and then a slight shift in position before repeating, until the entire bottom turned pink and warm to the touch.  As the other man's squirming increased, David gripped him more tightly around the waist, holding him in position and he began to rapidly pepper the bottom with ten more random swats. Finally, he put the paddle down and rested his hand on the hot flesh.

 

Mac squirmed underneath the touch and began to slide off.  "I want up," he mumbled, his voice thick and hoarse.

 

David helped him stand and hugged him tightly before pulling back to study him.  He kissed him gently, cupping his face in his hands while his thumbs brushed away the few tears.  "Come on, let's go lay down together."

 

"No, I don't want to," Mac objected, but didn't pull back.

 

Ignoring the objection, David walked them across the hall into their bedroom.  Still holding Mac's hand, he one-handedly unbuttoned his jeans and slipped them off before gently sitting down on the bed.  Moments later, he was on his back and pulling a slightly resisting lover on top of him.

 

"I don't want to lay down, Dave," Mac repeated, even as he burrowed closer to David's chest.

 

"I know." David tightened his hold with one arm as the other began to make slow, gentle strokes down the other man's back and across his bare bottom.  "I think it's important, though, and I'm tired.  You've got to be tired, too."

 

"Yeah, I am."  He paused before continuing, "I'm really sorry about not calling."

 

"I know you are, and it's OK.  We've talked about it and maybe it won't happen again."  He heard a sniffle come from the warm body next to him and slowed down his gentle strokes, resting for a long beat on the still-warm flesh.  A second later, he heard Mac's breath catch.  "It's OK, babe," he whispered.  "Remember what we said?  It's not something to get through.  The articles talked about this, remember?" He lowered his voice even more, his hand stilled on Mac's bottom. "How sometimes it's important to cry, to get those emotions out.  It's part of this whole process."

 

"Men don't cry," he insisted in a shaky voice.  "You just grit your teeth and go on, take it like a Man.  That's what I did when I got in trouble with my dad. It was like it was bad enough I screwed up; I wasn't about to shame myself by crying about it."

 

David chuckled, patting his partner's bottom again before gently kissing him his hair. "Babe, we've got some real issues to deal with if you're getting me confused with your father."  He was pleased to have Mac give a small laugh, and squeezed him harder.  "I'm not saying you have to cry, but I think sometimes it's important.  It's just you and I here; no one else is ever going to know what's going on in our house.  You won't shame me or yourself by crying, I won't be disgusted or think less of you."

 

The other man nodded but didn't reply.

 

Taking his cue from the silence, David also fell silent and simply concentrated on the gentle stroking and projecting a calm and protective feeling.  A few minutes later, he felt Mac shaking slightly in his arms and heard the distinct sound of soft crying. Without a word, he pulled him in closer and held him tight.

 

 

 

 

Without saying a word, Carlos motioned for Andre and Juan to pick him up and put him in the chair again. 

 

Pennscott barely winced as the metal of the handcuffs fastened his arms back at a painful angle, but he was unable to stop the cry as his wounded and badly infected leg was jerked into position and cuffed to a chair rung.

 

His jailer glared at him, all pseudo-friendliness gone now.  "You will answer my questions or you will die.  The choice is yours, David, and those are your only two options."

 

'Chicago might be nice,' David thought, struggling to picture the city by the lake with its miles of beaches and water.  'Maybe that's where we'll move.  Only four more months and we're done.'  It had been five years of secrecy and hiding but that was coming to a close now. They had both decided not to reenlist, preferring to leave and start a new life together.  'Or maybe Atlanta, the place where we first discovered each other.  The trees were nice and winters are a lot better than Chicago.'  He was only dimly aware of Carlos speaking to him to him, asking again the same question he had been asking for eight long days.

 

"David, you have one last chance before we begin to do serious damage.  So far, we have been gentle with you; we have treated you with respect, kindness.  That will all come to an end in just a moment."  He paused, eyeing the solider. "You have been a worthy and honorable foe. I have great respect for you and your strength.  But now, that strength and honor is going to kill you.  For the last time, why was your team in Bogota?"

 

The stone floor shifted in and out of focus as David stared at it, concentrating hard on blocking out his surroundings and what he knew was coming.  The first blow came quickly, and he retched, dry heaves racking his body as his leg was kicked repeatedly and the partially healed wound burst open.  Another blow to his face drew blood and he felt a tooth loosen as his head snapped first in one direction and then the other with the force of quick punches.  The blows continued until he was long past trying to predict them and brace for them.  Twice the chair was knocked over from the force of the blows, his head slamming into the stone flooring, his hands crunched painfully between the wood of the chair back and the floor.  A noise, barely heard, caused him to look up first into Carlos's face and then toward Juan and Andre and he began to laugh hysterically as three small red dots appeared in the middle of their foreheads.

 

The small barred window set high the wall blew apart seconds after their heads did and Pennscott was thrown to the floor, ears ringing as he grayed out.

 

"Move it!" a distant voice shouted as ropes were tossed through the newly expanded opening and four men dropped quickly into the room. 

 

In the distance, above the ringing, he could heard calm, controlled voices talking to him and gentle hands removing the metal cuffs with small bolt cutters. 

 

"Don't worry, Sir," a voice assured him. "We've got you.  It's OK."

 

He heard another voice, one he was intimately familiar with, and he struggled to look around.

 

"Sick bastards!  We should have shot them in the gut, let them suffer for days before finally dying. Head shots were too good for them!"

 

"Come on, Mac, we got him," another voice urged.

 

As he was picked up, he gave another cry and sank unresistingly into darkness.

 

 

 

A week later and 3,000 miles away, Pennscott glanced over at the door as someone knocked quietly and slowly opened the door.  "Hey," he said with a smile, ushering his men in with a wave.

 

The small room quickly filled, with men sitting on every flat surface and others leaning against the wall.

 

"We just wanted to see how you were doing, Captain," Edwards said.  "Mac was saying that he had heard you're getting out tomorrow."

 

Pennscott sighed and pointed to the chart on the wall that identified him. "Ed, what's that rank say?"

 

The other man grinned. "I know, Penn, but we all know that's just some clerical mistake. There's no way you're making Major before me."

 

They all laughed, and there were several agreeing hoahs from his closer friends.

 

"Yeah, they said I've been sitting around long enough." Pennscott returned to the earlier subject.  "They're kicking me out tomorrow, and hopefully I should be cleared within the month.  There's some physical therapy and stuff they want me to take care of, but no big deal."  He glanced down at the bed sheets before looking up, his voice strong as he continued, "I want to thank you all for what you did.  You risked your lives and I will never forget it."

 

Edwards reached over from his seat near the bed and grasped the other man's hand. "It's called Unit Cohesion, Major; something you have long fostered and something we all believe in."

 

"Unit Cohesion is all nice and good," Brookstone said as he pushed Edwards slightly aside and gripped both of their hands, "but I personally prefer Brotherhood.  No one gets left behind."

 

The accompanying Hoahs echoed around the room.

 

 

 

Mac settled his lover into their bed and sat down next to him.  "God, it's good to see you here again."

 

"It's amazing to be here again," David said. His voice cracked slightly and he swallowed hard.

 

"It's OK, babe," Mac assured him, taking his hand and squeezing it tightly.  "It's OK now."  When David didn't answer, he slipped off his slacks and shirt and gently, so as not to jostle the still healing ribs and leg, crawled into bed next to him.  "It's OK," he repeated, gently positioning them so that David was nestled up next to him.

 

The other man swallowed hard, shaking a little as he replied, "I didn't think I'd see this place again.  It didn't seem possible.  You know?"

 

"Yeah, I know."

 

"It just wasn't going to happen. I was going to die there and my body was going to be dumped and you would never know what happened."

 

Mac held him tight. "No, Dave, I wasn't going to let that happen.  We all worked night and day and none of us were going to give up until we found you.  Never."  He paused for a moment, before continuing,  "I wish I had been there for you. I wish I could have helped you."

 

"Oh, God, babe," David whispered roughly, "you were there.  You were there with me every moment. Every time I needed you, you were there right with me."  He fell silent without further explanation.

 

Taking his cue from that, Mac also fell silent and simply concentrated on gently stroking his lover's hair and back.  A few minutes later, he felt Dave shaking slightly in his arms and heard the distinct sound of soft crying.  Without saying a word, he simple pulled him in closer and held him tight.

 

The End.