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Some of the guys didn't care. They just cocked a knee, tenting the thin regulation blanket, and everyone pretended that was privacy. It wasn't, but as long as no-one burst the bubble...

It wasn’t Ethan’s style. He just couldn't relax, lying there with his balls cringing in second hand embarrassment and his stomach so in knots from nerves he just wanted to come and be done within it. Not that he was shy - he could talk a Helennic out of her codes and Whele into a bottle of bad whisky but it always felt too...raw. Like everyone knew not what he was doing, but who he was thinking about.

Not that anyone officially cared if you were queer - but official wasn’t the same as true. Yeah, every time some stubborn old queen got beat up (or worse, it could always be worse) for not going back in the closet, Riesen would make some solemn, sorrowful statement deploring the whole nasty business. Nothing every happened though  nothing ever changed. The undercurrent was always the same, 'terrible thing, of course, but he did bring it on himself'.

Plenty of people were still happy to blame the War on the queers, or the Jews or the pagans or... There had to be a reason, see. God wouldn't just get tired of them. There had to be a reason.

So Ethan kept his pants zipped and his rare dalliances businesslike, trading ration packs for a quick rut down Fremont. There were a couple of soldiers he knew went that way, a couple of V2's as well, but it never seemed worth the risk. He didn't fancy ending up in an Eightball firefight and his mates deciding to let him swing.

Alex wouldn't - but the thought of depending on someone else made Ethan's guts churn worse than the idea of announcing he liked cock in the showers. Having friends was nice, but he didn't need them. He took care of himself. Always had. Always would.

And when the flow of greedy dried up for a bit and he couldn't afford a trip to Fremont? He 'took care' of himself somewhere private: on the solo patrol, the ‘empty storeroom’ he stowed anything that didn’t fit his locker, or the garage when he was working on the cars (often enough that the smell of oil had started to give him a semi).

He was careful. He was prudent. He didn’t drop his trousers and grab his dick in Consul Whele’s


Ethan sprawled out in Whele’s leather chair, his hand wrapped around his cock. The rough calluses on his fingers scraped the delicate skin, and he imagined…

He clenched his teeth, hinges of his jaw grinding audibly, and dropped his head back against the head rest with a thump. His senses were filled with the hot spice and feathers musk of Michael, thick enough that he could almost feel it on his skin, and the whiskey and old smoke smell of Whele. Fuck if he knew whose hands he wanted on him more.

His foot braced against the floor, rucking the thick, pre-war rug, and the muscles in his legs pulled long and tight under the pale skin of his thighs. One hand twisted around his cock, wringing it like he could squeeze the wrong out of it. Whele was an evil old shit, daddy issues wrapped in control and a nice suit, and Michael was...Michael, wanting to fuck him was blasphemy and traitorous at once.

His brain, skipping along the hot, nerve-wrenching push of pleasure washing through him, caught up the stray memory of Arika’s pleasant, low voice. Pussy and tits had never done it for him, never even been an ‘maybe if I could...’ option. It’d be easier if she’d been right about Alex, though. Not easy - it sucked to want someone you couldn’t have - but, fuck, it was better than it being someone you felt shit about wanting.

If he could just want scruffy blond hair and a uniform that never hung right, instead of bored, angry eyes or cold, deadly elegance. Or an easy smile and a nice ass (he didn’t fancy Alex, he wasn’t blind), instead of impossibly broad shoulders or a masochist’s dream of a viciously sharp tongue.

Ethan dragged his thumb over the head of his cock, smearing pre-come in a sticky, wet line down his shaft. His ass stuck to the leather of the seat as he shifted. It gave him a low, odd pleasure to think of his sweat on Whele. The man’s hands would be cruel, but soft. Even after the War, Whele had managed to avoid honest work. Ethan kind of admired that. Hard as he tried, he always needed a straight job to subsidise his not so straight business.

It would be a hand twisted in Ethan’s hair, scalp burning and neck wrenched back till it hurt; bent over the edge of the desk with the edge digging into his gut. His cock pressed against the wood, and his ass hot and stretched. Whele had no time for niceties with his bedmates. He only spoke to the ones whose lives he wanted to fuck along with their ass, and Ethan wasn’t important to make that worth it.

He dropped his hand to cup his balls, squeezing tight enough to ache. Pleasure/pain pulsed back to his ass and down his thighs, muscles aching. He sucked a breath in raggedly, the air hot and oppressive in his throat, and licked sweat off his lips. It was salty, the stubble of a long day rough against Ethan’s tongue.

Michael didn’t have body hair. He’d spent three days in the desert with the Archangel Corps once, hunting traitors selling secrets to the eightballs. There was even a shadow of stubble on his jaw and when he’d stripped down to practice, he’d been all pale, hairless skin and hard muscle.

It probably wasn’t even his body. Not his cock or his ass or his hard, flat gut. It belonged to some poor bastard who’d never get to grow old, his body preserved in amber and his soul gone. Yet here Ethan was, thumb and forefinger tight around the base of his penis, biting his lip at the thought of that humourless mouth and long, graceful hands.

The fucker had met God, and Ethan wanted to get on his knees and suck Michael’s cock, wanted to taste that spicy musk in the back of his throat and see if that mild expression changed when he came.

He was arching his hips up into his hand, breath rattling hard down his nose, when a door clicked in the other room, the floor creaking. Ethan tried to bolt to his feet, cock aching and in the way as he wrenched his trousers up. Yanking his belt tight with shaking hands, biting his lips closed, he wasn’t sure if it would be worse if it was Whele or an intruder. He wiped his hands on his thighs and pulled his jacket down to cover the bulge of his stubborn erection. His hair was still sticky and matted to his head, and he could smell the horny stink of himself, but it was too late for anything else.

The door opened and Whele stepped inside, hand held low and behind his thigh. His face shifted from nerves to annoyance when he saw Ethan.

‘Do V2s these days not know what the meaning of ‘stand guard’ is, Mack?’ he asked, voice cutting through a smile.

‘Sorry, Consul,’ Ethan said. He licked his lips - Whele expected him to look nervous - and glanced over his shoulder for an excuse. ‘I thought I heard a noise in here. With everything that happened, I guess I’m a bit twitchy.’

Snake eyes flickered around the room, looking for the lie. Missing the obvious one, Whele shrugged. ‘Probably Samson. He has been restless of yet, feeling his oats.’

‘Yes, sir,’ Ethan said, lifting his chin. ‘Sorry, sir.’

He was dismissed with a twitch of Whele’s fingers, sending him limping out of the room.