Fandom: Over Here
Author: Anne Fairchild
Title: Paper Wings
Pairing: Archie Bunting/Cyril Barker
Rating: NC-17
Archive: Yes
Edress: anniefair2000@yahoo.com 

Okay, here goes......

For those who have no clue about this show
- it is set in WWII, from approximately early 1941 to approximately mid
1942-1943. The events of this story take place about 6-7 months after the
end of the series.

The main characters are a young Spitfire pilot, Squadron Leader Archie
Bunting, played by the utterly adorable Sam West (son of Prunella Scales &
Timothy West) - and Captain Cyril Barker, Archie's CO, played by Martin
Clunes, looking a bit older and a bit more tidied up, and serious, than he
usually looks <g>.

While the show is a comedy, it has its serious moments - and I chose to
build on those for this story. While the writers paired Archie of (in
matters of screen time, that is) with an American character, what
interested me was the relationship between Archie and Cyril - which fairly
burst off the small screen, IMHO <g>. Pretty slashy, watching between the
lines.....

The story is definitely rated NC-17 to X - but tenderly so. I hope that
doesn't put you off.... ;-)

If anyone notice words or phrases coming from the mouths of the characters
which sound more American than British, I would very much appreciate being
told about it. I tried, but I suspect I probably slipped up here and
there.....

Paper Wings

by Anne Fairchild


On descending the steps of squadron headquarters, Group Captain Cyril
Barker's gaze momentarily traveled skyward. It was cold and blustery, and
dark clouds still lurked in the aftermath of two days of extremely heavy
rain. Ordinarily, Barker would have been grateful for such weather because
it meant that nobody, Germans or Allies, would be flying. This time,
however, his number one concern, Archie Bunting, was already grounded in
hospital. 

Barker was worried about Bunting. For the cocky young squadron leader,
things had gone from bad to worse during the year after the infamous Fourth
of July party for the Americans at the Earl of Billingham's estate, and
Cyril was afraid that Archie was on the verge of a breakdown - was, in
fact, in the midst of one now.

First, there had been Dougal's death. The young Scot had been a favorite
of the entire squadron, and Archie in particular had always been buoyed by
his irreverent wit and strong spirit. His loss had hit them all hard, but
Archie most of all.

Then just last month, there had been the crash of the American Lenko's
plane into the Channel. The loss of an old friend and a new one so close
together had devastated Bunting. After a monumental bender following
Lenko's memorial service, Archie had withdrawn into a shell that no one had
been able to crack, not even his loyal squadron-mates. As his fear of
flying increased, a good part of his support system had disappeared - not a
promising combination of circumstances, for either Archie or his men.

If anyone knew how Archie must be feeling, it was Cyril Barker. When
they'd first met almost four years ago, Cyril had been Archie's squadron
leader. He understood all too well the gut-wrenching fear that possessed
one each and every time the Spifires went into action. Yet one forced
oneself to go on day after day, month after month, because after all there
was still some brightness to life, even in wartime - good friends, good
times in the pub, the comradeship of the squadron, and a job well done for
king and country.

But if ever that fragile light dimmed, particularly if one no longer saw
the possibility of its return, dangerous thoughts might enter the head of a
weary pilot. Archie had grown careless on patrol, and reckless with his
own safety as his depression deepened. He could not be talked to, couldn't
be reasoned with. He'd closed himself off, becoming waspish and cold even
with his own men. No, Barker did not like the signs he'd been witnessing.

Two days ago, on a routine mission, Archie had apparently taken it into his
head to put himself in a position to be shot down. Charlie Stansfield had
seen his friend's danger and had slipped into the fray - with the result
that Archie had got clean away, but Charlie's plane had sustained heavy
damage, and the young man had only just got back to base with a great deal
of luck. Stansfield himself had not been injured in his controlled crash
landing but Archie, first on the scene at the already burning plane,
had sustained numerous minor burns, cuts and scrapes trying to get his
friend to safety, and had landed in hospital. Cyril knew this might be his
only chance to talk some sense into the young man. Another such calculated
effort by Archie at his own death, made consciously or not, would probably
succeed.

Barker was directed to ward 7. Archie's bed was the last, a bit isolated
from the rest of the ward. He'd been unpleasant and disruptive, the ward
sister informed him with a sniff. That in itself was so unlike Archie....
Bunting appeared to be asleep as Cyril approached - eyes closed, a frown
shading the normally cheerful, slightly round face. He looked young, and
vulnerable. Far too young to have lost so many friends in such terrible
ways. Putting down the bottle of scotch he'd brought, Cyril pulled up a
chair and sat beside the bed. 

He'd always had his own, private feelings for Archie beyond the attention
given a clever young officer under his command. He'd even wondered, on the
odd occasion in the past after a comradely evening talking in the pub,
whether Archie might have similar feelings for him - but he'd always
dismissed this insane idea with a heavy dose of reality. Archie was
vibrant and attractive, and took pride in bedding half the women on the
base. The fact that he had behaved similarly before he'd married Lydia was
dismissed out of hand. Surely, that was different. Bunting had no reason
to think about him as anything more than a
commanding officer. Yet now, seeing Archie like this, Cyril couldn't stop
himself reaching out and taking the young flyer's hand, squeezing it lightly.

Archie started, his hand convulsively gripping Barker's. For one short
moment, the brown eyes radiated a silent, desperate plea for help. And
then it was gone, replaced by the uncaring sneer Bunting had recently
adopted. He snatched his hand back as if he'd burned himself.

"Sir," he acknowledged gruffly. He never called Barker 'sir' unless a
senior officer was present.

Yes, all right, act like a right bastard, Bunting. Keep everyone as far
away as possible. I know, lad - I know what it's like.
"How are you feeling?" Barker asked. Archie shrugged, looking pointedly at
the bottle on the bedside table. "No complaints."

"How is Charlie?" he asked, as Cyril poured a couple of fingers of the
scotch into a glass and handed it to him.

"He's perfectly fine," Barker returned patiently, wincing to see the speed
with which Bunting downed the liquor. "But you are not."

"What d'you mean?" the younger man growled. "Just a few silly bumps and
bruises, nothing to keep me here long."

"It's more than that, Archie, and you know it," Cyril sighed. "We both
know it. It's right to mourn. It's also right to ask for help when things
get a bit too much to cope with," he ventured.

Almost instantly, the wall came down.

"It's also bloody stupid to ask for help when I don't need any. And what
'things' would those be, that need 'coping' with? Sir." Archie grated out
the last word. 

Barker sighed. This Archie Bunting was a stranger to him. Wanted to be a
stranger, shut up alone with his pain, letting no one in. Cyril stared him
down.

"Dougal's death - and Lenko's. Things you had no control over. War,
Archie. The pain of loss and despair. Those things," he answered softly,
disgusted with himself for causing the pain he saw flare in the young man's
eyes, the twitch of the sensitive mouth.


"Yes. Well - people die in a war, don't they? It happens. We solider
on, don't we? I don't see how any help is needed with facts," Archie told
him, voice shaking only slightly. Sweat beaded on his forehead.

"They were your friends, old man. Their deaths hurt. You miss them. And
you're frightened. I know." Barker persisted quietly.

"Frightened? What the hell would you know about that, sitting at a damned
desk all day!" Archie spat.

The words were calculated to wound, and Cyril flinched. Both men knew the
anguish Barker had faced in his stint as Squadron Leader - and after
Lydia's death. He knew that Archie could not have forgotten - he'd been
the one who'd helped Cyril through most of it just by being there, and
listening. And now, Bunting was refusing help from the one person who most
wanted to help him, but was doing his best to drive a nasty wedge between
them. Proud, obstinate little bugger - until now, character traits which
had always been part of Archie's charm.

"It hasn't been all that long since I was in your shoes, and you know it,"
Barker returned patiently. "Do you want me to protest that I wish I was
still flying, still leading the squadron? Well, I don't wish that. I'm
glad to be alive, Archie," he admitted. 

Bunting glared.

"And as your commanding officer, whether you like it or not, I am not going
to continue to allow you to deliberately risk your own life - and the lives
of your men - because you are not in control of your emotions. I can order
you grounded, and recommend that you receive psychiatric treatment," Cyril
reminded him.

In a flash Archie's glass hit the wall, shattering. The ward sister half
rose from her chair, but Barker motioned her back.
"You'd DO that? Leave me to rot in one of those little rooms with four
white walls and a straight jacket, with sour-faced biddies and smug shrinks
lording it over me for the rest of the war? I'd *rather* be dead!" Bunting
shouted, his face reddening.

"And I'd rather you weren't!" Barker shouted back. "Even so - killing
yourself and killing innocent members of your squadron are two different
things!"

A frightening, confused mixture of rage and misery shone out from the
depths of the wounded dark eyes.

"Bugger off, SIR! Get the FUCK out of here and LEAVE ME ALONE!" Archie
shouted, attempting to throw something, anything within reach, at Cyril.

Admitting temporary defeat, Barker rose.

"This isn't going to change anything, Archie," he sighed, turning on his
heel and walking out of the ward without a backward look.

***

Two weeks later, intent on a badly needed night away from the base, Cyril
requisitioned a jeep and was heading down the road to nearby Kenniston, and
the Green Linnet. He still couldn't get Archie Bunting out of his mind.
Perhaps this particular pub was not precisely the place to go in order to
manage that - but it was still where Barker needed to be tonight.

He had not been able to talk to Archie - really talk to him - since that
day in hospital. When he rang up the ward several hours later, the sister
told him that Archie had required heavy sedation, and had lain in his bed
for hours shivering and sobbing bitterly, until he had finally fallen into
an exhausted sleep. Cyril hadn't known whether to be relieved, or ashamed
of himself for having hit the mark so clearly.


Not quite willing to punish Bunting any further if it wasn't strictly
necessary, when he'd reported back for duty Barker had said little more
about the circumstances of the event which had put Archie in the hospital.
He had only cautioned the young man to be careful. Meeting his gaze
defiantly, resentfully, Bunting had acknowledged the warning and appeared
to be heeding it - for the time being, at least. Yet Cyril knew that
Archie was a ticking bomb, waiting to go off.

Barker hadn't been to the Green Linnet in a good six months. Even when
he'd visited more often, he'd tried not appear to be a regular. Kenniston
was not so near to Lytchmere that his presence in the village or the pub
would be quickly noticed, but he still didn't want to take unnecessary
chances. The Linnet catered mostly to a particular clientele. Not rowdy
servicemen seeking the company of the lovely and willing lasses of the
nearby villages, but those simply hoping for a night of companionship, or
solace, with other men. Men of their own sort. Confirmed bachelors.
Aesthetes. Theatre people. Whatever euphemism might be used in polite
society, and a few rawer terms - queer; nancy boy. Poof.

Cyril had always had the feeling, even at school, that something was
missing in his life. He dated, and even did his share of rogering at
university, to be sure. But it was less than completely satisfying to him,
in a way he couldn't define. He had married Lydia because it seemed the
right thing to do. She was pretty, she adored him - and it was one up on
his brother Jimmy, who also admired the trim brunette. But after they were
married, things weren't - weren't quite right, in the bedroom. It became
more and more difficult for him to make the effort - and god knew, it
shouldn't have been an effort to bed Lydia.
He'd discovered the reason quite by chance, really. Popped into a London
pub to get out of a rainstorm one evening. A pub like the Green Linnet.
When one of the patrons came onto him that night, he'd been reckless enough
to go with the man, back to his flat. He hadn't returned home that night -
and he finally understood the nature of his discontent with Lydia.

He hadn't even tried to fight the urges - he wasn't hurting anyone, after
all - until Lydia found out. And then - briefly, Cyril's eyes shut against
the remembered pain of the angry, emotional scenes - Lydia's declaration
that she didn't give a damn what he did as long as he kept it quiet and
never touched her again. A horrified relief, then. He'd even known she
was seeing Jimmy. He hadn't wanted to know, but he did. How could he
blame her, or his brother? Perhaps it was his just punishment, after all.
He'd even had to live with the knowledge that Lydia had once been pregnant
with Jimmy's child, although she'd lost it early on. She'd blamed him for
that, too. No, Lydia had not been at all kind, although she'd never told
anyone. God knew what she'd ever told Jimmy, who didn't seem to have had a
clue.

Cyril hadn't had a great many partners. A few were quite kind and
affectionate; some were not. Most were just......experiences. Then the
War interrupted all their lives, and certainly didn't encourage long term
or close relationships. Or indeed, any relationships. 


Usually he came to the pub when he was feeling especially lonely, or lost.
He'd visited most often around the time of Lydia's and Jimmy's deaths,
about seven months after Archie Bunting had joined his squadron. Sweet,
funny, irreverent and irrepressible Archie. Sharp, witty, and strangely
kind, the grammar school lad with the devilish dark eyes and the
devastatingly appealing grin. 

Attracted to Archie from the first, he most certainly could not have
anything to do with a junior officer in his own squadron - so he began to
frequent the Green Linnet. It had helped just to be there - to go and sit
in the company of his own, even if all he did was have a couple of pints,
chat up some fellow who was as lonely as he was, and head back to the base.
And sometimes, he stayed a few hours - or even the night, with someone. 

Yes, maybe the Linnet was what he needed tonight. Mid week, the place was
quiet. A fire crackled cheerily in the old stone hearth, casting a mellow
glow over the comfortable surroundings. Cyril ordered a pint and took it
to his familiar corner. One or two denizens nodded in his direction, but
no one approached him. Either others were in a pensive mood as well, or
there was that in his face which did not encourage company. He drank the
pint and was a good way into another when the door opened and two men
entered and rather noisily requested service from the publican.

Barker didn't know the men - he'd never seen them before - but he knew
their type. Hard and rough, living on the dark edge of this society.
There were always a few of them here, on the prowl for fresh game. They
weren't interested in a relationship with the men they would meet here,
other than that of conqueror and subordinate - although that was too mild a
word for what they were after.

Untutored and unaware, Cyril had once experienced such a predator himself -
and had immediately known that the game was not something he would
willingly submit to again. He might not have it all figured out, but he
understood that he yearned for something quite different than the
recreation men like this provided for themselves out of the needs of
desperate strangers.

The men boisterously chatted up the landlord, scanning the customers for a
likely victim - and apparently found none, for they eventually grew quiet
and embarked upon a game of billiards. Cyril forgot about them - until the
door opened and Bunting stepped inside.

Cyril thought his heart might just stop. What the hell was Archie doing
here? Did he have any idea? After a quick look round, he must know. The
conspiratorial heads at the billiard table took note, and conferred. One
began to approach Archie - who appeared disinterested and moved up to the
bar, ordering his pint. Thank God!

Because Barker hadn't been to the pub in months, he was truly at a loss.
Was this Archie's first visit? Was he a regular? Why had he come here?
He did look a bit uncomfortable, and seemed trying to disguise the fact.

You are his commanding officer, for heaven's sake, man! You don't
dare....you simply can't.... Archie........
The dark-haired billiard player was trying again. Halfway through his
pint, Archie was listening. He smiled up at the stranger, who put a
comradely arm round his shoulder and gestured towards the table. 

"Raw night, eh Bunting?"

Archie whipped round, staring open-mouthed at Cyril, who inclined his head
in acknowledgment of the third party, who frowned.

"I thought you said you were alone, mate?" the man questioned.

"I am! I didn't know he - " Bunting hissed, scowling at Barker.

"Obviously," Cyril smiled, giving a long-suffering look to the stranger.
"He does like to stray, now and again," he sighed, laying a proprietary
hand on the back of Bunting's neck. Archie promptly shrugged it off with a
glare.

"Does he now? Well, you'd better keep a tighter leash on him then, mate.
He might get hurt if he wanders off on his own. But then, he looks like a
likely lad for it, I'd say," the man leered. "You jus' whistle, my man, if
you ever feel like slippin' yor lead," the billiard player grinned at
Archie before walking back to his companion.

"What the bloody hell are you doing?" Archie spat as Cyril hustled him back
to the corner table. "Leave me alone! You've got no right - " 

"To keep you from that lot? I do, Bunting, I do. Those men are trouble,
even if you're too blind to see it. What are you doing here? Have you
been here before? What - " Cyril rushed out.

"None of your business, sir! I'm off duty, and what I do on my own time -
" Archie growled, still making eye contact with the two strangers.

"Are you mad? This is not a game, dammit!" Cyril cautioned. "Unless you
want to find yourself in a great deal of trouble - more than even you can
imagine, Bunting - you should conduct yourself very carefully here. Haring
off with strangers is not a good idea," he warned.

"Come here often, do you sir? Want a go with them yourself? Is that what
gets you off?" Archie taunted. There was a wild, almost desperate glint in
his eye, and he seemed nothing like the Archie that Cyril knew.

Cyril came as close as he ever would to striking Archie. He went beet red
- and then absolutely white.

"That is enough, Bunting. Quite enough. Get out of here, now. I don't
give a rat's arse where you go, but get out of here - right now - or you
will be very sorry indeed." Cyril grated. Something in his face must have
impressed Archie, who went a bit pale himself. He stood.

"I'm leaving - for now. But you can't be waiting every time I come here.
You can't stop me. I'll do what I like on my own time," Archie bluffed,
"unless you want to bring me up on charges for indecent behavior. But I
don't think you want to do that, do you sir?" he asked softly, a faint,
rather nasty smirk lifting his lips. "Oh, and sir? Get buggered!" Bunting
snarled, whirling and storming out the door.

After Archie left and Cyril was sure the two strangers weren't going to go
after him - perhaps they'd taken note of Barker's uniform, since they
appeared to be civilians - he realized that his heart was racing, and he
was soaked with perspiration, never mind that it was mid January and
freezing outside. His heart sinking, he realized that Archie was right -
he couldn't be here every night, couldn't keep Archie safe - 

My God, Archie - why did it have to be you? Barker shook his head. The
thing, the person...the One, he'd been looking for ever since he'd first -
Archie Bunting. Stubborn, bull-headed, bollixed-up Archie - the one man he
wanted to comfort, save, protect - love. What a farce! He pressed the
glass of beer to his forehead and closed his eyes. Archie.


There was really precious little that Barker could do. He had to have a
damned good reason to keep Archie in barracks every night - if he tried, it
would only bring attention where he didn't want it. He did manage it once,
and from the look on Archie's face he knew he daren't try it again.
Talking was out of the question, he knew. Impossible. No matter how much
he wanted to reach Archie, it was not going to work.

Two weeks later, when Cyril went to the barracks to discuss a mission with
the squadron, he could barely contain himself and give the men their
instructions. Archie sported a split lip, and a blackened eye. Avoiding
Barker's direct, probing look, Archie said nothing about it - and Cyril
himself didn't say a word. He knew exactly what Archie had been doing -
where, and with whom. It hurt him to see it, but he assumed that would be
the end of it. Surely, Archie would steer clear of those two from now on.

Somehow, Archie managed to learn when Cyril was going to visit the pub
himself, and their paths never crossed there again. Barker wasn't sure
what he would have done if they had. It was just as well. He knew he
would have totally lost his temper - lost everything - on account of
Archie. Painfully screwed up, desperately unhappy Archie. What he
wouldn't give to hold the lad in his arms for even ten minutes, to have the
chance to try and convince him that somebody understood...somebody cared
about him. Loved him.

Shockingly, the visits - and the bruises - continued. Cyril began to
wonder if he could bear it. When would Archie go up in the Spitfire and
never come back because he was too exhausted, in pain, miserable - to give
a damn any more? Or would Barker get a call that one of his flyers had
been found, beaten to death, in some grimy bedsit?

Archie grew paler, and thinner - and so quiet his men hardly knew him.
Several of them had come to Barker, worried about their mate. Yet his
recklessness in the air had ceased. He was once again a crack pilot,
bringing his men home day after day without casualty. 

One morning as he was addressing the squadron and trying to avoid the sight
of Archie's freshly battered face - heaven knew what Archie found to tell
his men about his appearance - Cyril believed he finally understood.
Archie was calm. Almost...peaceful. At ease. And it struck him - the
abuse Archie took from the men at the Green Linnet assuaged his grief, and
his guilt. The beatings, and the...God knew what else - were Archie's
atonement for the crime of being alive - for surviving.

Cyril was heartsick. Other than turning Archie in to the base
psychiatrist, there was nothing he could do. If he did do that he might
save Archie from himself, but at what cost? Archie would stay alive, but
would disclosure of his secret life and the shame of his painful obsession
make him well again, make him whole? Of course not.

***

The next morning was bitterly cold. The scent of a coming snowfall was in
the air, as surely as if the flakes were already to be seen falling from
the sky. Catching sight of Archie, Barker knew that he had to do something
- had to at least try. He couldn't bear to see him in such pain. If a
confrontation was necessary, then there would have to be one. 
Barker shuffled the motor pool requisitions, 'borrowing' one of them for
the afternoon. Consequently, Archie would not know that he had gotten a
jeep. If Archie was heading for Kenniston tonight, Cyril would not be far
behind him.

Except that things did not go as planned. Leave it to Tully to
monumentally foul up the latest orders incoming from HQ in London. A snafu
that could not be left for anyone else - Barker had to see to it. By the
time he had finished straightening things out, he learned that Archie was
nearly three hours ahead of him - and it was snowing fairly heavily.

As darkness descended, the snow fell harder and the temperature dropped.
It was difficult to see, and drifts were starting to pile up. They would
both have a hell of a time getting back to Lytchmere. Well, if all went
well, Archie would be returning in the jeep with him, and the bike could be
fetched later.

The bike. Archie's bike. Half in, half out of a ditch, five miles outside
of Kenniston. Cursing, Cyril pulled sharply off the road, leaving his
lights on to warn oncoming traffic - if anyone else was fool enough to be
out on a night like this. 

Grabbing a torch, Barker got out of the jeep and approached the bike. The
wind bit into him, tearing right through his clothing. A man could freeze
to death out here in a very short time. The bike lay on its side, a dark
bundle beside it. 

"Bunting! Archie!" Barker shouted, shaking the snow-covered shoulder,
hard. There was no response, but the bundle shook beneath his hand.

"Oh Archie!" Cyril moaned, turning him, brushing the snow away from the
pale face. Fresh blood mixed with snow. It had run freely from his nose
and congealed in the cold, meeting up in a clot at his bruised and swollen
lip. Cyril held out a hand to pull him up.

"Leave me alone," Archie mumbled. "... be all right." 

Everything about him - his battered face, the glazed eyes, the shivering -
belied the statement.

Cyril would have to be very careful. The wrong response or tone would doom
him to failure, and he had only seconds to decide. He held out his hand
again, insistently.

"Get in the jeep, Bunting. Now." An order. Firm. But in his voice, all
the feelings he'd been holding inside for Archie, all these months. Please
God, he would understand.

For a long moment, there was only the whistling of the wind and the snow
stinging his face. Then Archie reached up a hand, hesitantly.

"Can't...stand up," he whispered breathlessly.

"It's all right, I'll help you," Cyril groaned with relief, taking Archie's
hand and pulling hard. The nearly full weight of the frozen man almost
toppled both of them back into the ditch, but in a few minutes Barker had
Archie in the passenger seat of the jeep, wrapping him in every blanket he
could find.

"I've got to get you warm," Cyril fussed uselessly. Where to go? On to
Kenniston - surely, not to the Green Linnet, and if not there, then where?
Not likely anywhere in the village at this time of night. Back to his own
flat, on the outskirts of Lytchmere? That might get very complicated. On
to Wilburn then, another fifteen minutes past Kenniston on icy roads. But
he had to get Archie somewhere safe - somewhere he could look after him.
His own hands shaking, more with impatience and near-panic than cold, Cyril
unscrewed the lid of the flask he kept with him and held it to Archie's
blue lips. Archie gagged and choked, but he got some of it down
nonetheless. After another slug of the stuff and a wasting of more
precious minutes, Barker snugged Archie into the blankets as best he could
and headed in the direction of Wilburn. He remembered a rather
pricey-looking inn, set back from the road. He had no idea if it would
even be
open. If not, he would make them open it - wartime, and all......oh, don't
be an arse, Cyril old boy.

By the time he found the inn, the roads were all but impassable. At least
the lights were on, he acknowledged with relief, pounding on the door.
Barker pulled out all the stops - one of his men had gotten unexpectedly
stranded in the snow. He'd come upon the fellow and realized he was in no
condition to make it back to base. He'd decided to wait out the storm some
place where the man could be properly looked after. He would need to
telephone Lytchmere and let them know what had
happened, of course. 

The innkeeper was a sympathetic young woman - husband away in the military,
no doubt - assisted by an elderly couple. They were closed for the winter,
but because of the storm they had taken in other temporary lodgers, so
Barker and Archie were welcomed as well. The man helped Cyril get Archie
upstairs and into a room which featured a large four-poster and a truly
beautiful sight - a fireplace, which the innkeeper and the old woman
promptly went to work on. When the fire was blazing, the two women left
with the promise of bringing up some hot soup and a bottle of cognac, as
well as hot water, towels, extra blankets and hot water bottles.

Once they had gone for the time being, Cyril set to the task of getting
Archie out of his sodden, frozen uniform. Silent and shivering, Archie
seemed unable to assist. Cyril slipped off his shoes and trousers first,
intent on getting Archie into a chair before the fire. There were bruises
and welts on Archie's thighs and buttocks, some old and others quite new
and looking as ifthey might be painful, but Archie appeared oblivious.
Cyril fought down the bile which rose in his throat at the proof of what
Archie had been putting himself through in order to achieve some kind of
peace.

The jacket came next, with a bit of difficulty due to the stiffness of
Cyril's own fingers and the jacket's half frozen state. Tie, shirt,
vest...... There were more marks on Archie's back, standing out in stark
contrast to the creamy, lightly freckled skin. 

Once the wet clothes were off, Cyril wrapped Archie from head to toe in
blankets which had been placed by the fire to warm. Archie's hands and
feet were like ice, and his nose and cheeks blossomed with angry red
splotches. He had barely responded, not even when Cyril had stripped him
off and exclaimed sorrowfully over his injuries. He only sat, seemingly
numb to the world around him, and shivered.

Cyril bent down and took Archie's face in his hands, tilting it up.

"It'll be all right, Archie." Bunting looked away, shaking his head
violently.

"No! It won't," he moaned. "Not ever."

Cyril's heart ached at Archie's hopelessness. Whatever his thoughts about
being careful and cautious, they went out of his head at that moment. If
he were to bring Archie back - to life and to him - he would have to fight
for him with every ounce of strength and determination he had.

"Yes," Cyril insisted, "it will be. Because I refuse to lose you. I care
about you - very much - and I'll be damned if I'll let you drown. Like it
or not, you're stuck with me," he warned, stroking icy cheeks softly with
his thumbs.


"No," Archie frowned, trying to pull free. Barker held him fast.

"I won't let you go, and I won't give up. I want to help, to take some of
your pain away," Cyril explained gently. "Will you let me do that?" 

At this, Archie's eyes closed. When he opened them again, they were full
of unshed tears. He made as if to speak, but only a choked sound came out,
his lips trembling with emotion as much as with cold. His trembling
increased, and then came another sound - sharp, raw...and needful.

Kneeling, Barker slipped Archie from the chair to the hearth rug and into
his arms. He held the shaking man as tightly as he dared, petting the damp
head, carefully smoothing the marred back.

"It will be all right. It will," Cyril murmured into a pink ear which he
cupped in his hand, using his breath to warm it. Archie whimpered, and
Barker began to rock him, slowly. The only sounds in the room were the
comforting crackle of the fire and Cyril's soft, soothing murmurs. Archie
lay shivering in his arms, without protest.

Some time later, a quiet knock at the door signaled the return of the
innkeeper and her assistant. Carefully, Cyril released Archie and settled
him back in the chair with a last stroke to the wet curls. The dark eyes
didn't seem quite so lost now.

"Come in," Cyril answered.

Blankets, warm towels, and even two thick terry bathrobes were produced,
along with a wicker hamper of various toiletries and a tin box of first aid
supplies. A couple of large basins full of hot water then appeared - and
finally, a tray of soup and sandwiches and the promised cognac. Cyril saw
the young woman slip hot water bottles between the sheets of the cozy
looking bed.

"Thank you, for your extraordinary kindness," Barker told her.

"It's an ugly storm - and the young man - I can see he needs looking after.
We're glad to help," the woman smiled. "You just ask if you need anything
else. The telephone is on the landing." With a nod and a final warm smile
she closed the door, and they were alone.

Cyril brought one of the hot water basins to the chair and carefully
immersed Archie's feet. Wincing at the first heat, after a moment Archie's
eyes closed and he leaned back in the chair. Cyril brought the other basin
near, and dipping a cloth into the water, he tipped Archie's face up and
very gently began to clean away the blood from his face.

"Hold still," Cyril murmured, holding the cloth gently to the wounds,
allowing the heat to penetrate. A soft groan escaped from Archie -
although whether of pain, or in appreciation of the warmth, it was
difficult to say. Archie wouldn't look at him. He sat, mostly still and
entirely silent as Cyril bathed him. He moved as Cyril needed him to,
standing while Cyril carefully pressed the warm cloth over the multicolored
bruises and the fresh wheals on his buttocks and back.
Kneeling as he was, Cyril was unavoidably confronted by Archie's lax penis,
testicles drawn up tight in protest against the cold, and shock. Those
brutes had abused him in so many ways - might he be injured there as well?
At least, that was the rationale which gave Cyril permission to look - no,
to stare, and to imagine - 

Archie seemed unharmed. Shaking, Cyril reached up to touch - to softly
caress, brushing his fingers lightly over the tight strawberry curls. He
pressed his face against Archie's belly, touching his lips to the delicate
skin of inner thigh. For a moment he simply knelt there, inhaling Archie's
own particular musk, reveling in the sudden intimacy - until he felt Archie
tense and heard him hiss in surprise.

Looking up, Cyril's eyes met Archie's and he read shock, bewilderment - and
fear. Oh God, had Archie really had no idea - ? 

"Ah, Archie, how could I not love you?" he asked. "How could any sane man
not love you?" he wondered with a smile, rising.

"No! NO!" It was all there in the wide eyes - pain, recognition, denial -
terror. Cyril reached out - and Archie tried to back away quickly,
forgetting that he was standing in the basin of hot water. He would have
fallen if Cyril hadn't caught and held him.


"Nooo," Archie croaked, shaking his head. "Don't say that! I'm not - "

"You most certainly are - worthy of love, and capable of loving - and
nothing will convince me otherwise," Cyril insisted, his arm about Archie's
waist, holding him fast.

A flash of desperate defiance blazed in the dark brown eyes.

"Give us a kiss then, luv?" Archie suggested. There was nothing warm or
welcoming in the question-offer, rather it was a reckless dare, calculated
to entice Cyril to sink to the depths of the painful, loveless sex and
despair - the dark, emotionless world - that Archie had inhabited for far
too long.

It might just be now, or never.

Resisting the impulse to simply slap some sense into the desolate, bitter
young man, Cyril pulled Archie to him and assaulted the sarcastic words,
battering the trembling lips with his own, forcing himself past another of
Archie's barriers. Archie yelped in surprise, struggling to free himself
from Cyril's embrace, but he discovered that his CO was surprisingly
strong, and determined.
Briefly, Cyril wondered whose desperate panic was greater - his to
convince, or at least capture - or Archie's to break and run as far from
love as he could get. More gently now that he had gained entrance to the
fortress, Cyril put every bit of loving tenderness he could into the kiss.
He held Archie firmly against him, making sure that the younger man could
feel the physical evidence of his desire as well.

Don't shut me out Archie, he begged.

The body he held was stiff and unyielding for countless agonizing seconds.
But gradually, minutely, Cyril sensed a change from rigid denial, to anger
and uncertainty, to fear. Archie began to tremble - and timidly, to
briefly return the kiss. Forbidding himself the full response he longed to
give, instead Cyril bade his tongue caress Archie's softly as his hands
smoothed soothingly over the goose-fleshed, flushed skin, gentling and
reassuring the skittish young man.

"I can't," Archie moaned. "You shouldn't - I'm not worth - " he stuttered.

"You're worth everything to me," Cyril admitted. "And you've done nothing
to be punished for, Archie. All you've done is manage to stay alive, and
that's not a crime, it's a miracle," he smiled into the confused dark eyes,
reaching up to stroke Archie's cheek. The blonde head shook in denial
again, but the shivering was less, and Archie no longer protested the
comforting arms around him. 

After one more gentle, all consuming hug, Cyril let go. It was entirely
too early to hope for complete victory, but he was grateful he'd managed
this much.

"We need to get you settled in bed and get some hot food into you." Cyril
helped Archie into one of the robes and took him to the bed, where he was
firmly tucked into the soft, blissful warmth. 

Whereas before Archie wouldn't look at him, now the sensitive eyes never
left Cyril. He went to the table for the tray of food, but Archie's low,
hoarse voice stopped him.

"You're just as cold and wet as I am."

"I am, rather," Cyril admitted.

"Well - ?" Archie rolled his eyes. Cyril smiled, and nodded. A bit of
the old Archie was still in evidence after all.


"Right," he acknowledged, allowing himself to bake a bit before the fire
as he climbed out of his wet uniform and donned the other robe. Only then
did he bring back the tray and set it beside the bed. He handed Archie a
mug of soup and took the other. Allowing himself to relax just a fraction,
Cyril inhaled from the steaming mug. He hadn't realized how hungry he was.
He took a sip, and then another. God, that tasted good! And it was warm
going down. Heaven. 

Glancing over, he saw that Archie's hands were shaking so badly that he
could scarcely get the cup to his lips. Swallowing one more mouthful of
the soup, Cyril put his mug down and took Archie's from him. Still shocky,
and once more apathetic, Archie made no protest. Shaking his head, Cyril
pulled the covers up high, mummifying Archie in the warmth.

"Not hungry," Archie mumbled, turning his head.
"Bollocks," Cyril returned softly, holding Archie's head firmly and putting
the mug to his lips. "You've been starving yourself. Drink." The words
were firm, but Cyril's tone was gently encouraging.

Archie did not deny the statement, and Cyril half expected him to protest
the order, or at least to turn his head. Cinnamon eyes met his, and Cyril
saw that Archie appeared to be searching for something in his face. All he
could think to do was to squeeze a robed shoulder,meet the dark,
questioning gaze - and wait.

At last Archie nodded, and leaned forward slightly to drink. A second sip
quickly followed the first. Cyril wondered how long it had been since
Archie had eaten a full meal, or had anything warm in his stomach.

Archie choked slightly, his head bobbing with weariness. Cyril sighed.
Half frozen, exhausted, still in shock and frightened, Archie was making a
heroic effort to maintain control of himself and the situation. It nearly
broke Cyril's heart. He could only offer Archie his love and his strength.
He hoped it would be enough, and prayed that Archie wouldn't lose himself
in the struggle.

Cyril put the cup down. He stood, and gently scooted Archie towards the
center of the bed. Cyril sat and swung his legs up, resting against the
headboard. Cautiously, he put one arm about Archie's shoulder, drawing the
trembling body to him.

"I know you're tired. Rest your head on my shoulder," Cyril encouraged,
his hand now settling about Archie's waist, hugging gently. Reluctantly
but inevitably, Archie's head did come to rest, the soft curls tickling
Cyril's cheek. With his other hand, he held the soup while Archie finished
it - and finished his mug as well. The two men sat this way for some time
after the soup was gone, Cyril's hands doing their best to lull Archie
without frightening him. He thought he might be succeeding - but then
Archie groaned, and his shivering increased. Cyril's heart sank at the
thought that perhaps he had upset Archie somehow.

"Archie?" he asked softly. "What's wrong?"

"Cold," Archie mumbled. "So bloody cold." 

Ah. That, Cyril could do something about. "Right-o, I'll see to that," he
assured Archie. He stood up and made Archie lie down in the bed,
surrounding him with hot water bottles and all the blankets in the room, so
that his head barely appeared on the pillow. He rubbed Archie's limbs
through the blankets, hoping to stir up circulation. After several
minutes, Cyril realized that not only was Archie still shaking, he appeared
to be perilously close to tears. Cyril had the feeling that the young man
needed precisely what he longed to give him - but would Archie - could he,
accept it? 
"I'll warm you, Archie," Cyril offered. The decision made, he suddenly
felt as if a freight train was trying to run straight out of his chest.
With a deliberateness he felt not at all, Cyril took off his robe and
slipped beneath the blankets. Without thinking about it any longer, he
undid the belt of Archie's robe and slipped it from his body. Hesitantly,
Cyril enfolded Archie in his arms and pulled the shivering man to him.

It was true that Archie's limbs were cold, but the rest of him
seemed...very warm. Cyril knew it was his imagination, but for a moment he
felt as if Archie's belly touching his, their genitals meeting so
intimately, might actually scald him. God, could he bear it? He wasn't
sure what Archie was feeling, but at the least it was confusion and
indecision, for his frame was still fairly rigid.

"You're safe now, Archie. Shhhh," he crooned over and over, while his
hands moved tenderly over every inch of Archie that he could reach.

As tense as Archie seemed, it appeared that he was not entirely unwilling
to be held. He had admitted to being cold, and that was perhaps reason
enough, on the surface. Whatever additional benefit he might receive from
the situation could be ignored or denied if he chose.

Still trying to hedge your bets, eh Archie? Cyril thought fondly, if sadly.

With one hand he slowly rubbed the length and breadth of the broad back,
taking care to keep his touch light. His other hand stroked, gentled and
soothed; a whisper-soft, tender smoothing of eyebrows followed by a light
press of lips to forehead, eyelids, nose, and earlobe. Cyril caressed a
stiff shoulder, his hand traveling down to cup and stroke an elbow, to
lightly kiss the tender inside of a wrist, holding Archie's hand gently
captive. All the while he kept murmuring the chant of reassurance and
security he knew Archie needed.

In a response measured in fractions, Archie began to acknowledge Cyril's
tenderness. The stiffness gradually melted away, and Cyril finally felt
Archie's weight against him, hesitant but apparently trusting now. The
shaking slowly faded to an occasional brief tremor which Cyril doubted was
caused only by the cold.

"Good lad. Shhh, Archie. I'm here," he whispered, petting softly. A
sudden shudder ran through Archie's body, and a sound of intense pain. A
series of tremors and gasps followed, and Cyril understood to his horror
that Archie was trying without success to hold back deep, wracking sobs
which seemed about to tear him apart.

"Oh, Archie! It's all right. Let it all out, Archie love. You've a right
to those tears, by God! Cry for Dougal, and Lenko - all of them. Cry for
yourself as well, Archie. In some ways, the ones who've survived have
suffered more pain than those who are gone," Cyril acknowledged, hugging
tightly to the grieving man. "You've no cause to feel guilty. If only I
could take your pain away," he groaned, his own eyes filling at the
evidence of just how much anguish Archie had had to shoulder alone. 

The painful storm went on for quite some while. That was only right, Cyril
acknowledged - it had been building for a long time. Finally, the sobs
shaking the desolate Archie stopped - and he clung to Cyril with amazing
strength, considering all he'd been through that day. Archie hung on as if
his very life depended on not losing contact with his rescuer - and perhaps
it did. He seemed to be trying to climb inside of Cyril, to hide away in
the strong, comforting arms. To erect an impenetrable barricade which
would protect him against the pain of loss - or his own death. To keep the
horrifying fear at bay for a few blessed hours
in a world of chaos.

"You're safe now, Archie. I won't let anyone hurt you. I'm here, Archie.
I'm here," Cyril repeated, until his voice cracked with weariness.

***
Barker woke with a start - to empty arms. He sat up at once, searching.
Archie stood naked by the window, gazing out. Cautious, Cyril rose and
went to him. Gooseflesh gave evidence to a chill, but Archie stared out
into the night seemingly mesmerized.

"Archie?" Barker asked softly, slipping an arm about Archie's shoulder and
giving a light squeeze. "You're freezing. Are you all right?" The golden
head dipped to his shoulder as easily as if it had been used to resting
there for years.

"It's so peaceful down there," Archie sighed, still looking out the window.
"I can almost remember what it used to be like - "

The scene was indeed beautiful. Snow had continued to fall since their
arrival, and now everything was white as far as the eye could see. Here
and there a tree could be made out, bare branches bent low with the weight
of the stuff.

"It is lovely, isn't it?" Cyril agreed. Looking out into the ghostly
timelessness of the thickly falling flakes, one could easily believe that
1939 and the subsequent years had never passed, nor the horrors they
brought with them.

"If we're going to enjoy it, we should do it well, don't you think?" Cyril
asked. Releasing Archie with a brief press of the arm, he brought the
decanter of cognac and the glasses to the window and placed them on the
deep sill, pouring out two dark amber portions. He then took a couple of
the blankets from the bed to the comfortable window seat. Archie stood
watching him, a slightly puzzled look on his face.

Cyril wrapped the blanket about himself Indian-fashion and climbed into the
window seat, his back supported against the window frame. He motioned for
Archie to join him.

"Come here," he invited softly, smiling. His voice was not as steady as he
would have liked. Archie tilted his head for a moment as if considering
the request - then he nodded almost solemnly, moving to sit between Cyril's
bent knees, allowing Cyril to pull the other blanket over both of them so
that they were warmly cocooned.

Archie leaned back into Cyril's arms, his head pillowed on a warm shoulder.
Cyril hugged him firmly, dropping soft kisses on the bared neck. Archie
sighed, shifting to give Cyril better access.

"I do love you, you know," Cyril murmured, tenderly caressing the man in
his arms.

"You never let on - I had no idea. It would have made things...bearable, I
think, instead of - " Archie stammered.

"I'm sorry. But I am your commanding officer, Archie. I couldn't just - "

"But you have."

"Yes - I have, haven't I?" Cyril chuckled, then quickly became serious.

"It's dangerous you know, for both of us. Very dangerous indeed," he
reminded Archie.

"More for you than for me?" Archie returned astutely.

"Yes," Cyril admitted, and then - "You scared the bloody hell out of me."

"I scared myself. You were right - I was drowning. I didn't know how to
save myself, and I wasn't sure I wanted to," Archie sighed, turning to
snuggle unashamedly against Cyril's breast, hugging him tightly. Cyril
returned the embrace, stroking the pale neck and shoulder.
"It hurt to see you suffering and not be able to reach you," Cyril admitted.

"I wanted you to care - and I wanted you to hurt as much as I was hurting.
I hated myself, for everything," Archie choked.

"And I had a seat in the stalls, watching you destroy yourself," Cyril told
him, "and I had to stop you. When you came into the Linnet - " Barker
paused. He gently disentangled himself for a moment, putting one of the
glasses to Archie's lips, waiting while Archie took a good swallow and then
doing the same himself. They both repeated the effort, Cyril then putting
the empty glass back on the sill and once more enfolding Archie in his
arms, nuzzling soft wisps of curl which even a regulation haircut couldn't
stamp out.

"I knew what you were doing, and why. I wanted to come after you and knock
some sense into you. I hated thinking of you with those bastards. I could
hardly bear it, seeing the results - was it worth it, Archie? Did it give
you what you...what you wanted?" Cyril asked, holding his breath. There
was no answer for so long that Barker's heart began to sink, but finally, a
soft admission - 

"No - never. I hated it...them. I felt so alone. I thought nobody
understood, not even you. I needed - I need you," Archie sighed.

At a loss for words, Cyril could only press gentle kisses everywhere he
could reach on the man lying relaxed in his embrace. Archie happily soaked
up all the affection given him, warm and yielding.

"I will never want to hurt you or cause you pain, especially in that way.
But I do want to make love to you, Archie. I will do anything you want -
except hurt you. Don't ever ask me to hurt you," Cyril's voice shook with
emphasis.

"No," Archie breathed in agreement. With a breathy groan, he nibbled at
Cyril's neck, licking the bony hollow below his breastbone.

Cyril shivered, aware of the pressure of his stiffening penis pressed
against Archie's hip.

"I want to hold you tight. Touch you - kiss you, everywhere," he admitted,
carding his fingers softly through the blonde curls. As he shifted his
weight, so deliberately did Archie, until their genitals pressed full
against each other, hot and heavy with desire.

"God," Cyril breathed, "I want you. I want to know every inch of you," he
murmured in Archie's ear, nibbling and sucking at the soft lobe.

"Mmmmhhh," Archie agreed, his hips unconsciously undulating against Cyril,
innocently single-minded in his need.

Knowing that if he didn't move soon their lovemaking would remain crammed
into the now less than comfortable window seat, Cyril sat up, bringing
Archie with him.
"Come on, sweetheart. Let's go back to the bed," he suggested, giving
Archie a tug up and leading him towards the four-poster. "I'll be right
there," Cyril encouraged, guiding Archie down to the mattress, where he lay
face down, burrowing his nose into the clean sheets and soft bed. Cyril
went to the basket of things the innkeeper had left them. He rummaged
quickly until he found items which would serve his purposes, then came back
to the bed.

Cyril regarded Archie's prone, vulnerable form with tenderness and
trepidation. What he wanted to give Archie, he had never given anyone.
He'd never felt as close, hadn't wanted to protect and nurture, to pleasure
anyone, in the way he wanted to give himself....open himself, to Archie.
He was shocked at his own feelings of sweet affection mixed with so frankly
with carnal desire - no, with lust - for the man. If his heart had reached
the conclusion that he loved Archie some time ago, his body knew it tonight.


Trembling, Cyril placed his palms atop Archie's shoulders, letting his
hands glide slowly downward over prominent scapulae, spine and flanks, the
heat from his hands he hoped penetrating to warm Archie's heart as much as
his body.

He wanted to cry aloud _I want you. I want to please you, to excite you.
I want to make you come, shouting my name!_ But having spent a lifetime
without desiring to do these things for anyone, Cyril wondered if that part
of him could truly bloom, even under Archie's influence. Love was not
always enough, and it was frightening to think that he might still lose
Archie if he were to prove too staid, too mundane.

Briefly, he allowed his hands to pass calmly over firm, round buttocks
before stroking the back of slim, finely muscled thighs lightly furred in
tawny gold. His fingertips trailed softly down taut calves, coming to rest
over Archie's feet - surprisingly neat, for the size of him.

Lowering himself beside Archie so that their bodies touched comfortably,
Cyril lay his head low on one pale hip, his mustache brushing the soft
cheek. He kissed it lightly once, then again, licking gently at fading
purple-green bruises everywhere he found them. There were too many. He
felt Archie's pelvic muscles tense, and heard a faint gasp.

Archie moaned, shifting so that his legs parted slightly in invitation.
Cyril stroked the inner thighs, brushing his fingertips lightly over the
sensitized flesh. Archie rocked and thrust into the mattress. Sitting up,
Cyril allowed his fingers to drift upwards, caressing the sensitive
perineum and then slipping between the firm cheeks. Archie groaned, then
sighed as Cyril rubbed a thumb across the dark, puckered opening to his
body, softly stroking.
"I'm going to have you - you know that, don't you Archie? Yes, I'm going
to take you - fill you so full of my cock that you won't doubt who you
belong to, ever again, will you?"

Cyril was as shocked as Archie at the words he'd spoken. Before tonight,
he wouldn't have believed he could mean something like that, never mind say
it. Suddenly, his whole world - the world inside this room, now, tonight -
was Archie Bunting - who was his, by God! He was awash in adrenaline and
desire. Before he had time to wonder with dawning horror if this might
have been the worst thing he could say, Archie raised his head and turned
to look at him.

The expressive dark eyes were almost inky with passion, and wonder. They
no longer showed fear or doubt but relief, and a desire equal to his own.

"Now?" Archie breathed hopefully. Cyril smiled down at him.

"No - not yet. Soon enough. First, we must tend properly to Squadron
Leader Bunting," Barker grinned, turning a surprised Archie suddenly onto
his back.

The vision which greeted Cyril took his breath away for a moment - and
filled him with joy. Archie - the old Archie, his Archie, lay sprawled in
the bed with golden hair mussed and pale face flushed with arousal, the
velvet eyes framed by expressive stripes of dark brow. He looked like
nothing so much as an eager, playful tiger cub, full of himself and intent
on testing the strength and resolve of the world around him.


"My God I love you," Cyril groaned, mounting the long, well sculpted body
of his lover, thrusting his pelvis down hard against Archie's, grinding
their hips together fiercely. He could easily have devoured Archie,
kissing him until neither of them had any breath left in their bodies. No
quarter was given nor asked. The two grappled and rolled on the bed - and
once or twice, almost off of it and onto the floor. Another time, such a
heedless fit of passion would bring laughter - but not this time. Both
were savagely intent in their happiness, and mindless of anything but the
pleasure they gave and received.

"Hold - on. Slow - down, Archie," Cyril gasped, panting, sweat trickling
down his back. 

"I don't - want - to. What's the - matter - old man - tired out already?"
Archie retorted, in much the same shape himself.

"Not by half, old chap - but one must strive to do things - properly,"
Cyril returned, nuzzling Archie's shoulder, licking a droplet of sweat from
the shining skin. Archie giggled.

"Properly? What the devil d'you mean, 'properly'? I'd say we're bloody
damned IMproper, by most people's reckoning," he snorted, pulling Cyril
tightly against him.

"Here now - who's running this show, anyway? Squadron Leader Bunting, are
you going to obey orders, or shall I put you up for a court martial?" Cyril
asked sternly, nipping tender flesh.

"OW! All right, all right - you are - this time, anyway," Archie conceded,
with a questioning look at Cyril.

"This time," Barker acknowledged with a smile. 
Knawing softly on Archie's shoulder, he captured a breast beneath his palm,
moving in slow, circular motions. Archie sighs turned to moans as Cyril's
fingers zeroed in on first one nipple, giving it plenty of attention,
before he turned to the other. As his hands moved lower, rubbing slowly
over Archie's flat belly, lightly skimming the damp grove of delightfully
pale curls below, his mouth took over the job his hands had begun above.

Archie squirmed, overcome by the dual sensations and equally by their
leisurely application. Moments ago he and Cyril had been plunging headlong
into completion - now, Cyril had yanked him halfway back and they would
begin again, maddeningly - and deliciously - slow in pace.

Cyril drew a delicately pebbled bud into his mouth, sucking hungrily.
Archie made a plaintive, whining sound. One hand came up to cradle the
back of Cyril's neck, urging him to continue, while the other stroked
Cyril's shoulder affectionately. The sensation of the nipple's swelling in
response to his ministrations, the rough, yielding softness of it against
his tongue and lips combined with Archie's cries of pleasure, made Cyril
dizzy with lust, and with the knowledge of the power he had - not power he
would ever use to hurt, but to guide and control - and keep Archie alive
until this bloody war was over.

Archie's involuntary movements at his hands excited Cyril. He reveled in
feeling the mirror of his own passion in the lean, almost feline body
twisting and grinding under him. He grasped Archie's cock firmly, getting
his attention, rewarded with a breathy gasp and a thrust up into his hand.


"Will you give yourself to me, Archie?" Cyril murmured in Archie's ear.

"'esss," Archie sighed, clutching Cyril's waist as if it were a life
preserver. His eyes were cloudy with passion.

Cyril stroked neither gently nor ungently but with a purposeful rhythm,
relishing the arousing heat of the rapidly growing cock in his hand.
Sliding the foreskin back, Cyril leaned down and licked at the shiny,
swollen head, blowing on it lightly. Archie sobbed and threw his head
back, hips raised in tetanic shudders. Cupping smooth, dark testicles in
his hand, Cyril squeezed gently, massaging the silky orbs together,
pressing them up against the perineum, then releasing and squeezing again.
He took
his time, rushing nothing. He delighted in making slow, sweet love to
Archie as much as Archie obviously appreciated it. 

There was no real need for him to make it up to Archie for what he'd
suffered at the hands of those men, yet he wanted to - he wanted to be sure
Archie knew that sex between men didn't have to be like that. Taking
Archie's rampant cock into his mouth, he sucked experimentally. Archie
cried out loudly, biting off the sound.

"Yes, sweetheart," Cyril crooned, continuing to apply both hands and mouth
to the task. It felt good to hold Archie like this - to cradle him
like...yes, like a lover. Not only his straining organ, but all of him -
the solid male body bucking in his arms, dancing to his choreography. In
none of his prior lovemaking had Cyril ever felt this connection, the
almost dizzy joy he was experiencing knowing it was Archie he was making
love to.

He felt a series of rhythmic tremors rumble through Archie. The slim hips
snapped upward frantically, and Cyril sucked harder. He was rewarded by a
plaintive cry from Archie and a spurt of warm, salty fluid against the roof
of his mouth. He suckled deeply, not wanting to miss a drop of the heady
stuff. It made them a part of each other, this sharing of body fluids.
Soon, he would bury himself in Archie and complete the precious bond. 

Good lord, I'm getting poetic now - rather banal, Cyril old man!

As his cock gradually softened Archie continued to shake, a fine sheen of
sweat covering his body. He sobbed for air once or twice, turning his face
and body into Cyril as if to hide, half ashamed of his passion. Cyril held
him close, stroking and petting until the tremors passed. Finally -

"Archie? I want you, love. I need you," he murmured against the damp neck.

"Yessss," Archie nodded, incapable of more complicated speech. 

He seemed calm enough, but Cyril detected a hint of doubt in the chocolate
eyes. Doubt about the physical act and whether he might be hurt, or doubt
about giving himself totally to Cyril? Whatever it was, Cyril had to make
sure that Archie had no doubts at all, or he couldn't go through with it.
If he believed, Archie must as well.

"This time it'll be good for you, I promise," Cyril whispered, releasing
Archie and rising to his knees. 

"My God," Archie breathed, staring up at him.

"What's wrong?"

Archie's gaze had zeroed in on his pelvis. 


"What - ?"

"You have rather been hiding your...light, under a bushel, haven't you? A
very big bushel," Archie gave him a ghost of a grin, mixed with trepidation. 
Cyril blushed crimson. True, he had been told by other lovers that he
was...considerably endowed....but he'd never given it much thought beyond
those encounters. He'd thought they were only complimenting him rather
Archie," he stammered. "I want you, very much - I want to make you mine
beyond question - but only when you're ready and willing to give yourself
to me, and not before," he assured the dubious Archie.

"Bloody hell," Archie murmured - but again, there was the echo of his old
cheeky grin, and Cyril wasn't too worried. Taking Archie's face in his
hands, Cyril kissed him deeply and for a long while, trying to coax away
his anxious lover's doubts. When he drew away the dark eyes seemed dreamy
and soft, and reflected more than a glimmer of Cyril's own feelings.

Cyril reached for a pillow, placing it beneath Archie's hips. "Relax and
enjoy yourself, Squadron Leader," he smiled, lowering himself to the bed.
Spreading Archie's knees, he slowly kissed his way up soft inner thighs to
the tender junction of hip and groin. Archie groaned, and wriggled
pleasurably.

Cyril pressed his face to sensitive testicles, breathing deeply, licking at
the tender spheres. This was Archie too, and the scent of his lover's musk
filling his nostrils was intensely intoxicating.

"Ohhhh," Archie sighed, raising his hips towards the stimulus. Cyril
stroked a thumb lightly over the smooth, exquisitely erotic area between
balls and anus as his tongue played with the pliant orbs, nuzzling softly. 

"Christ!" Archie snorted, emitting a strangled snicker. "Your mustache!
Yes-ohgawd," he cried, twisting upward in Cyril's grasp. 

Mine, sweetheart. Mine. Cyril's cock was painfully hard, each brush
against the sheets now a torture. There was only one place it wanted to be
now - and restraint was becoming increasingly difficult.

Slipping his hands under Archie's arse cheeks, Cyril took a deep breath -
and brushed his tongue lightly against the sweet pucker at the entrance to
Archie's body. Archie stiffened, gasping in surprise. 
Cyril laved over the tender opening, wetting it thoroughly. 

Archie whimpered and bucked. "Ohgod," he moaned.

The more attention Cyril paid to the dark, soft bud the more it responded.
Tentatively he pressed the tip of his tongue to the opening, then pushed
inside. The response was so immediate, for a moment he thought he might be
strangled between Archie's knees. His lover moaned, writhing frantically
beneath him. Cyril raised his head for a moment.

Dark eyes glittered in the moonlight which splashed the room. The vision
of a large cat came to Cyril again - this time a contented, purring beast.
Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night... 

"You like that, do you?" Cyril asked softly, needlessly.

"Mmmmrrrrr!" The response was almost a purr - or was that just his
imagination? 

"I'll take that as a yes," he smiled, dipping his head to continue. Braver
now, his tongue darted in out, circling the compliant orifice then
penetrating it, and retreating just to see it beg for his touch. Archie's
soft moans and sighs were making him harder - if that were possible.


"Yes. Please. I want - " The request was soft, and sweet to Cyril's ears.

"All right, love," he smiled, sitting up and wiping the sweat from Archie's
forehead. He reached for the tube of lotion - and Archie took it from him,
pouring a generous amount into his palm. 

Archie appeared to want to touch him as much as he delighted in his own
inventory of Archie. The slim, surprisingly delicate hands were sure and
skilled, and Cyril found himself thrusting into them with more enthusiasm
that he ought. He was too close.

"No Archie, no more - I can't," he protested. "Bend your knees up a bit -
that's it. All right - steady, old man," Cyril murmured. His hand was
shaking so badly he could hardly hold onto his own cock as he guided it on
its journey to Archie's center. There - just a little push, and - He
watched Archie's face carefully, and whenever there was the slightest hint
of discomfort or doubt, he stopped until Archie could relax again. It did
not take so awfully long at that, however, to find himself completely
sheathed by his lover's body.

"My God, Archie," he sighed, "you feel so - "

"So - " Archie gasped, "do - you. Now - if you could only just - MOVE!" he
groaned. There was no pain in his face now, only need. Cyril withdrew a
bit and pressed forward again, slowly. Archie groaned, tossing his head.
A great cat, indeed - a tomcat. Cyril grinned. He began a slow, steady
rhythm, matching Archie's thrusts with his own.

Archie reached up and grasped him round the middle, urging him on - deeper,
faster, ohgodYES Cyril! It was the first time tonight that Archie had used
his name. He thrust deep, and Archie gasped and clung to him, freely
meeting his passion. Soon, soft moans of lustful pleasure from Archie
accompanied each stroke - long, low sounds of long-denied, forbidden want.
The sound of Archie's desire, along with his body's sweet capture-ransom of
Cyril's cock, brought Cyril to his peak sooner than he would have liked.
He drove into the beloved body one last time, surrounded by the shuddering,
spastic movements of his
impending release - and lost himself in Archie.

Cyril didn't know how much time had passed before he came to himself enough
to realize that he was alone in the bed, and that Archie was moving about
the room. It was also very cold. He heard a loud clunk! and dimly
realized that Archie must be fussing with the fire.

"Archie? Is everything - all right?" he asked. 

"Yes. Just stay put, I'll be there in a tic...." Well, Archie sounded all
right. In a few minutes, Cyril heard the hiss and pop of the fire, and saw
its glow reflected on the opposite wall. He was too exhausted, however, to
turn over and look at it. Presently, Archie came round to his side of the
bed with a towel and a basin of water. 

"What are you - ?"

"Just relax. Go back to sleep." Archie's voice was warm, and his eyes
were soft.

"Mmm?" 

Archie tossed back the covers, and Cyril felt the wet towel being passed
over his body - face, neck and torso, then over his belly and between his
legs, caressing him, cleansing him of their lovemaking. It was so sweetly,
thoughtfully intimate - 

"Come back to bed," Cyril managed to articulate, reaching out a hand to
Archie.

"Oho, you can't possibly - " Archie started to shake his head, one eyebrow
raised in disbelief.

"No - no. Just - come to bed," Cyril repeated, his arm still outstretched.
Archie smiled then, tenderly. 

"Of course I will," he agreed, sliding beneath the covers and pulling them
up snugly, burying the two of them beneath the comfortable mound of warmth. 

Cyril was pulled firmly back against Archie's chest. One strong arm was
tightly about his waist, and he lay his head on the other. The bedding
still smelled of musk - of him and of Archie - and ever so slightly, of the
clean scent of lavender

"Go to sleep," Archie urged. And he was too tired to do anything else. 

***

There was no sun, but with daylight the brightness of the snow reflected
off of everything, and its glare against the windows woke Cyril. He was no
longer wrapped in Archie's arms, but he sensed that a warm body still lay
beside him. He rolled over - to meet tender brown eyes.

"Good morning."

"Good morning." It was Archie who broke the awkwardness by kissing him on
the mouth - softly at first and then a good, hard, tongue-dueling excursion
broken only by the necessity to breathe.

"Does that answer your question?" Archie asked him impishly.

"Yes, it does indeed," Cyril chuckled, twining his legs with Archie's,
allowing himself to be pulled over onto his lover for several more lengthy
kisses. Eventually, Cyril broke away.

"As much as I would love to - to... Do you know what time it is? Has it
stopped snowing?" he asked rather sadly.

"It's going on half past nine. It's not snowing, but it'll be half the day
before the road is clear enough to even try heading to back to base,"
Archie answered, stroking Cyril's neck.

"Bloody hell.....we have to get up. They'll be knocking at the door any
min - "

"I've already talked to Mrs. Norris - Kate. There'll be something for us
to eat any time we go down. And if you hurry, the shower is vacant now and
the water is probably hot," Archie informed him.
"The innkeeper? You spoke to her - ?"

"I thought it best. I wasn't sure how long you were going to sleep, you
see - and I called the base too. I talked to Charlie. Lord knows, I
didn't fancy speaking to our esteemed Wing Co," Archie shook his head,
making a wry face. "I told them we might be back by tea, or perhaps not
until dark," he grinned.

"Archie, you can't - " Cyril started.

"Relax, Cyril. It'll work out," Archie reassured him. "Charlie and the
boys can befuddle Tully so thoroughly he'll think he's arranged the whole
thing."

"Not quite," Cyril cautioned. "And what exactly did you tell the
innkeeper, Mrs. - Norris? Worked your oily charm on her did, you?" he
regarded Archie skeptically.

"Didn't have to. I went down early, and caught her in the kitchen.
Thanked her for taking us in last night. She's a lovely woman - a widow.
Her husband was a flyer - lost over the Channel two years ago. She said -
she said I reminded her of her brother," Archie sighed, looking thoughtful.

"Oh, yes? A widow, a handsome young flyer - "

"No!" Archie stopped him abruptly. "She told me I reminded her of her
brother in - lots of ways. She - well, she said we could come back any
time we liked - you and I, just the two of us. She'll always have a room
for us, she said. She knows, Cyril. Her brother - she lost him too, in
North Africa. It's all right. We have a place to come, to be...together.
I couldn't say no. Where else can we go? If we only had this one night,
with no chance for it to happen again - I couldn't bear it. To know there
is someplace - " Archie argued desperately.

"Yes - all right," Cyril agreed. "I will attempt not to panic, then. I
must learn to remember that I don't have to think of everything any longer
- do I, Squadron Leader?" he asked, smiling in resignation. The return
smile which lit Archie's face was answer and justification at the same
time. "And I admit, it is an appealing solution," he further relented. 

Archie had looked so like a little boy pleading to be allowed to do
something that he knew mum & dad wouldn't approve of that Cyril couldn't
bear to dampen his enthusiasm. While it was good to see some of Archie's
customary cheekiness again, the vulnerability was still there. Cyril,
while not precisely desiring to foster this dependence, was nevertheless
content for now that it remained. At least he was sure that Archie needed
him, if he was less sure about his lover's deeper emotions.
"Do you want your shower?" Archie pestered.

"I suppose I ought," Cyril nodded, swinging his legs over the side of the
bed. "Where is it?"

"Second door on the left," Archie told him, tossing him his robe. "Don't
lock the door, I'll get you a towel."

"All right! What are you going to do in here when I'm gone anyway? Don't
think I can't see you're dying to get me out of the way," Cyril shook his
head, laughing. He put on the robe, opened the door into the hallway, and
found the bathroom where Archie had indicated it to be.

It was a huge old Edwardian bath, tiled and sparkling. The room held a
double sink, a toilet, a sinfully large claw footed tub, and a modern
addition - a shower fitted out in a square tiled cubicle, complete with
glass door. Cyril opened the door. Various niches inside held soap and
shampoo. Pretty impressive. 


Shivering in his bare feet on the cold tile, he lit the heater and turned
on the water in the shower. Amazingly, there actually was hot water.
Gingerly, Cyril stepped inside. He stood for a couple of minutes just
enjoying the delicious flow of hot water over his body. Bliss! He'd
forgotten what privacy was like, never mind the hot water and good smelling
soap. He had washed his hair and was about to reach for the bar of soap to
complete his ablutions when the door to the bathroom opened. 

"Archie?" he called out, expecting a confirmation that his towel had
arrived. He gaped as the shower door opened - and Archie stepped inside to
join him.

"Are you mad?" Cyril protested, secretly as pleased as he was shocked.

"Of course I am," Archie agreed, catching him round the waist and pulling
him close. "But you've always known that. I decided," he smiled, nuzzling
and kissing down Cyril's jaw and neck, "that we shouldn't waste this
marvelous shower. Besides," he grinned, "I fancy a taste of Goliath here."
Archie reached down and firmly grasped Cyril's cock.

"Goliath?" Cyril snorted, raising his eyebrows.

"That's what I've decided to call him," Archie nodded, sinking to his
knees. He pushed Cyril gently back until he stood against the tiled wall.

"Well, I have the feeling that you'll do all right with him - Davey," Cyril
retorted, delighted that Archie's sense of whimsy was showing itself again.

"I'll do my best," Archie told him, just before he took Cyril into his mouth.

It took all of Cyril's resolve not to collapse in a puddle on the floor of
the shower under Archie's enthusiastic attack. Wherever and however Archie
had learned, his oral skills were considerable, and Cyril was quickly
aroused - or was it just because this was Archie kneeling before him,
happily fellating him, as much tenderness as strength in his touch?

Shaking with the effort to remain upright, Cyril steadied himself by
reaching out to touch Archie, returning his caresses. Archie's hands
wandered over Cyril's arse as he fed, his fingers slipping between the
lean, wet cheeks. At the press of a digit to his anus, Cyril groaned and
his hips bucked. Slipping the finger inside, twisting slowly, Archie
picked up the pace of his meal.

"God Archie, have mercy!" Cyril gasped. He slipped over the edge of will
and began thrusting uncontrollably down Archie's throat. The responsive
orifice urged him on to fulfillment, hot and clever and welcoming - and
obviously hungry. Archie had planned this, had set him up for the express
purpose of coming in here and doing - THIS! A squeeze of his arse, a twist
of that gifted finger, and Cyril exploded.

Archie suckled him until he was soft. Guided him to the tiled floor when
his legs would no longer support him. Held him tightly, stroking his back.
They sat in a tangle of limbs on the floor of the shower, the now-lukewarm
water cascading over them. 

Cyril felt remarkably peaceful, and definitely relaxed. He grinned to
himself. Trust Archie to ... He turned the beloved face to him, nibbling
gently at the sensitive lips.
"Why, Archie?" he asked softly. Archie would have looked away, but Cyril
held him firm.

"Because - I'm not so good with words, when it matters," Archie mumbled.
"I've never said - not to anybody, ever," he stammered. "But - I wanted
you to know. I hoped you'd understand, even if I didn't...say the words,"
he admitted. 

The impact of Archie's stumbling confession hit Cyril at the same time as
the truth in the wide, liquid eyes. Oh, my sweet love!

"Yes sweetheart," he assured Archie, "I do." He kissed the precious mouth
again. Archie returned the kiss, snuggling against him.

Although the water was cooling and the hard tile floor was now less than
welcoming, Cyril had no intention of moving just yet.....

FINIS

copyright Anne Fairchild, 2000


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