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Reconnaissance

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His desk lamp is on. He didn't leave it on when he left in the morning to provide radio support for Big Boss which means some time over the course of the past fifteen hours someone else was in his room. Gritting his teeth, he silences the black pang of anger at the violation and keeps walking.

 

Against the total void of the sea and the sky on his right the intrusion lights up like a neon sign. No doubt the mischief of some particularly cocksure recruit looking for a way to assert themselves in the hierarchy. Pulling one over the bosses for accolades and bragging rights is an old trick and Ocelot has spent enough of his youth in military bases to be unsurprised by these tactics even if they do chafe his patience.

 

It’s a windy night so the telltale jingle of his spurs is swept away along with the sound of his footsteps leaving whomever is there, still there Ocelot notes at the ajar door, blissfully unaware of his presence. It’s a calm he intends to disturb most violently.

 

Ocelot feels his hackles rise as he slows his approach, regarding the milky white light spilling out from under the door with irritation as he recalls what possessions lie behind the locked door. He wouldn’t call himself a sentimental man, though there are persuasive arguments to the contrary, but there are pieces of him scattered amongst his meagre collection. And although a few beaten up notebooks wouldn’t typically merit a second glance, they belong to him.

 

Moving behind the door he draws his Tornado from his holster slowly with his right hand, while placing the left against the door with faint pressure. He smirks at the familiar weight in his hand. It’s been a hell of a long time since he’s had occasion to draw on someone, he may as well make it count. With a gleaming black barrel and a few choice words he can put the fear of God into just about anyone.

 

All it’ll take is one example to keep the rest in line and on guard against entertaining such stupid ideas in the future. At least it’s him, he thinks mildly. Miller would likely actually shoot them given his growing paranoia.

 

As quiet as a cat, he eases the door open, raising the gun on the stranger across the room. He catches his head between the crosshairs easily. The figure doesn’t move. He steps forward.

 

He tongues a canine, ready to let loose hell on whatever sorry excuse of a recruit thought it was in their best interest to infiltrate the personal quarters of a triple-agent, a man as well renowned for his shot as his expertise in enhanced interrogation. He’s about to ask them whose bright idea this was, but the words aren't even half formed in his mind when a figure hidden behind the door grabs his wrist.

 

Quick as lightning, his opponent squeezes and twists his grip sharply, disarming Ocelot easily.

 

Ocelot yelps in a combination of surprise and pain at the offensive, the clatter of his Tornado falling to the ground a distant realization as the muscles in his wrist absolutely ignite with pain. ‘It’s sprained, if not broken’ is the immediate assessment as he rushes to collect himself.

 

He reaches behind him for his second revolver, but isn't quick enough to draw it before the stranger acts. Capitalizing on his momentum and the element of surprise, the assailant yanks Ocelot towards him, twisting his arm behind his back painfully while catching him in a sleeper hold. The forearm pressing against Ocelot’s throat, canting his head up, warns him against movement. He's firm against him, his opponent, and in the back of his mind Ocelot can't help but appreciate the grace in his offensive, even if he is at the receiving end of it.

 

 

Despite the pain flaring through his wrist and the arm at his neck, Ocelot still manages to unholster his remaining Tornado. He aims the gun at his assailants thigh in one quick fluid motion. If he’s an expert with his angles, which he is, the bullet will tear through the femoral artery. Should he decide to fire, the unwitting assailant would bleed out in minutes.

 

"I don't know who you are but I can tell you right now, you don't want to be doing this," Ocelot drawls, tapping the barrel against the other man's thigh, a matter-of-fact critique on his captor’s technique. It’s an oversight and a big one, leaving an opponent as skilled as himself armed. None of his nerves show simply because it’s been too long since he’s been allowed to entertain them. It’s not his first standoff and if memory serves him correctly, not even the most ominous in his history.

 

His opponent huffs a laugh and it blows hot against his ear, "Is that so?"

 

That voice? Ocelot stiffens at the familiar rasp but his mind catches at the flesh and bone forearm at his neck. Warm as blood and tight against his throat. It can't be. As if sensing his confusion the man tightens his grasp, making Ocelot squirm to accommodate. He’s as strong as the man he resembles, Ocelot registers dully as his mind races to make sense of the anomaly.

 

Ocelot cocks the revolver. There's no telling what kind of damage an imposter could do on Mother Base. He may not survive this exchange, but for years now his life has only been led to a single end. To die for the man he’d been living for seems fitting, poetic even.

 

"Easy, Adam," he soothes, his lips almost brushing Ocelot's ear. "Just listen to my voice."

 

He softens against his better judgment, every instinct of which is telling him to resist the deception. The use of his birth name stay his finger on the trigger and the tenderness of the gesture goes straight to his groin, muddling with his anger and confusion at the situation at hand. For a moment, any thoughts of sacrifice, of violence, abandon him.

 

“Don’t you remember?” the stranger begins, his voice low and careful, "Two plus two equals five..."

 

_________________

 

Somewhere in his mind he's aware that John is still talking to him. Murmuring calculated words and phrases designed to undo hours of hypnotherapy, each statement a gentle tap against a pin towards unlocking the greater whole, but he doesn’t truly register them. Rather his attention is driven further inward as his thoughts are pulled in a thousand different directions at once. Memories arise as though from the ether. They are murky at first, then as sharp and clear as polished diamond.

 

All of a sudden he feels weak and dizzy, a soft groan escaping his lips as he reaches for his face. He’s overwhelmed by the mental stimulation and realizes several seconds later that  John’s hands have fallen to his hips, bracing him even as Adam’s body becomes more uncooperative and secondary to the sensations in his head.

 

“I need to sit down…” he begins, unsteady. John throws a supportive arm around his waist, his other hand gripping Adam’s bicep as he leads him over to the bed. Adam’s damaged wrist brushes against John and the pain hisses, not ready to be forgotten. Adam looks up at him was much focus as he can muster, his expression worn, “You know, you’re a real bastard- scaring me…like that…”

 

“I know, I know,” John chuckles in response, his voice warm as brandy, and Adam doesn’t get a chance to finish his thought before he’s gingerly placed on his bed. Once seated, John’s half forgotten as he succumbs freely to the desire to be still, to will the necessary remembering processes to take their course.

 

The accident, the hospital, the phantom. It comes back to him as though it was always there; the phone call with Zero, Venom’s hypnagogia, long hours at John’s side in the hospital. Contrary to the process of forgetting, which had always been rife with barbs in one respect or another, it feels like a relief he hadn’t known he’d been craving. Suddenly the times he’d been caught in the vice grip of headaches he could never quite make disappear away make perfect sense. For once his mind isn’t being forced to reconcile its manipulations.

 

He can greedily revel in the truth.

 

John. Adam looks at him through his fingers with bleary eyes, at once feeling the thrill of their reunion and the cool distance of their separation. He massages his temple wearily with his good hand, breathing deeply to coax his thoughts to settle.

 

With inaudible footsteps, John moves across the room to close the door though not before giving a cursory glance outside. It's unlikely he'll see anyone, their forces are still too small to properly secure each strut and the majority of them are concentrated around the primary R&D and Command struts. Not to mention that Ocelot deliberately chose living quarters that were as isolated as possible without hindering his responsibilities as Tactical Instructor.

 

John squats to pick up the Tornado, looking down the barrel and feeling the weight in his hand. No doubt admiring the impeccable design before tucking it into his belt.

 

Returning to him, John reaches for the canteen on his hip, unscrewing the cap and handing it over, "Drink. It'll help."

 

Adam doesn't think the prescription is anything more than good intentions mixed with common sense, but he figures it can't hurt.

 

He accepts the proffered flash, coughing slightly when his tongue meets vodka instead of water. Still he chokes it down anyway, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he endeavours a few good swallows. He returns the flask before swiping a red gloved hand across his mouth, breathing deeply. It's cheap and harsh, and makes him feel like he can breathe fire, but it settles him enough to clearly regard the man before him without being distracted by one revelation or another.

 

John, the real John, is standing in front of him in the flesh. Damned if the man hasn't aged a day since they last met, the devilish expression playing at his pristine features, unblemished by the shrapnel and bone that haunted the phantom's face. For a moment he can't even imagine himself convinced of the phantom's authenticity, but the underlying fuzziness of the hypnotherapy receding from his mind speaks to the contrary.

 

"Better?"

 

John holds out the revolver to him, handle first, and damned if Adam isn't as starstruck as the day they met. He glances upward at him, an echo of his younger passion over the years grabbing hold of him as tightly as it ever had.

 

He accepts the Tornado with his left hand, giving the revolver a flashy spin between his fingers, before sliding into its holster. Grins.

 

“I’ll live."

 

----------------

 

"How is it? Coming back, I mean." John asks conversationally around the cigar in his mouth, his lighter sputtering a few times before successfully nursing a flame. The tip of the cigar burns an electric red-orange.  John’s across the room now, watching Adam from his post leaned up against his desk. He takes a deep drag before exhaling easily. Adam’s never been taken with smoking, cigars or otherwise, but he can’t deny that John makes it look seductive. Wreathed in smoke, a snake in waiting.

 

The rich, spicy scent floods the room and Adam can't help but be reminded of their foray in Vietnam to rescue EVA. It feels like ages ago, the three of them stuck in a safe house in Hanoi, waiting for exfiltration.

 

He isn't fooled by the flippancy of the gesture. He knows John well enough to realize he is watching him with an intensity that could be easily classified as predatory. John takes another puff before clenching the cigar between his teeth. If there’s anything he’s learned over the course of his incredible military career spanning nations and mercenaries alike, it’s that John has infinite patience. He doesn’t push or prod, merely waits for the water to clear before moving forward.

 

Adam gives him a weary smile, "It's a hell of a lot nicer than going under, I can tell you that."

 

There's no way for his mind to tell if everything's back in place after the hypnotherapy, whether or not all of the sealed off rooms of experiences and knowledge are open, but he feels like things are settling. There aren't any more revelations, only refining details. The butter yellow scrubs the attending was wearing the morning John woke up, the sensation of the filmy pink plastic upholstery in the waiting room under his fingers as he tried to compose himself after each session.

 

They can talk now.

 

"Not that I'm not happy to see you, but what are you doing here?” Adam asks, shooting John an inquisitive look. As far as he could remember, and given those memories had only just been reviewed he was sure, there were never any plans for John to make contact with the new Mother Base. Visits constituted an unnecessary risk considering the nature of the ruse and the resources at their disposal. Between their shared contacts, there would be enough spies to easily advance the right agenda should the phantom begin to deviate from the plan.

 

Not that that was a likely problem given the suggestible and passive nature of the imposter himself. Miller exerted considerable influence over the man, no doubt as a result of their previous working relationship. There have to be parts of the phantom that doubt himself, question the almost impenetrable reality that doesn’t feel quite right, Adam suspected those same trepidations remember Miller in some respect. In any case, where Miller failed, he picked up the slack, steering the phantom where he needed to go. Even under hypnosis, he knew where they were going.

 

Adam shifts to get more comfortable, grimacing a bit as his wrist twinges with pain.

 

“Reconnaissance. Wanted to see what kind of operation you’re running here," John answers, slipping off the edge of the desk to approach Adam, “Let me have a look,” Adam obliges, giving him his hand. John takes his right hand carefully in his own, carefully sliding off the thin red leather glove and gingerly turning Adam’s wrist to examine wound. “It's only a sprain."

 

“Reconnaissance,” Adam repeats, watching the surprisingly delicate fingers canvas his skin. It’s comforting, being crowded by him. The longing never went away, even if the man himself did.

 

Over the past few months, there has been a very tangible distance to the phantom. One that had steadily worsened over time. Where John’s cigar smoke beckoned, the phantom’s cautioned, the cloying smell of medicine mixed in among the fumes. They contained too many drugs that Adam was personally well versed in, white lies twisting up into white smoke. He looks up at John, his eyes flickering with amusement, "The reports I've been sending haven’t been flowery enough, I take it?”

 

"Reading isn't the same as seeing.” John replies matter-of-factly, retrieving a bandage from one of the back compartments on his belt. As if it’s that simple.

 

It had been no small feat coming up with justifiable reasons for the reports, Adam’s background alone made him suspicious by nature. Keeping himself from chasing the trail involved some of the most rigorous manipulations precisely because they involved John directly, both aiding and protecting him from the damage Adam could cause.

 

John doesn’t elaborate on his reasoning, the silence spilling forward as he focuses on his task. Looping the fabric around Adam’s wrist easily, the white gauze a soft mild pressure. He’s gentle. The warm press of fingertips anchors Adam to the present as much as his mind longs to drift. Instead, he watches the way John’s brow furrows with concentration. His attention always stays with the wounded, no matter how insignificant. It appeals to Adam in a way that he’s never quite understood but appreciates nonetheless.

 

Still, Adam has questions and moves to draw him out.

 

"He's not here, if you wanted to see him. Him and Quiet took on a wetwork job around Masa Village a few days back,” Adam says, searching for a reaction. John’s lucky he caught anyone. Typically, he’d be running support alongside Miller in the comms room right now as per their working strategy, but due to the protracted nature of the infiltration they decided to split the work in shifts.

 

John doesn't look up, his thumb pressed against the edge of the gauze, while he searches for butterfly clips in the many compartments on his person.

 

“I'm here for the base, not him. Besides I’ve seen him on a few missions, the infiltration operation at the Mfinda Oilfields, a few soldier rescue operations outside of Di Wiallo. His competency has never been an issue.”

 

“He’s a good soldier,” Adam agrees. Initially there had been concerns that the likeness wouldn't be persuasive enough, that John’s deadly fluidity would prove impossible to imitate. At least that's what he had thought. But whether or not it was due to the extensive nature of the hypnotherapy or the skills of the imposter himself, Adam never once had cause to question the phantom. And while Kaz clearly had a few reservations at the start, they were never enough to alert him to something amiss. Accidents change people. Simple as that.

 

The concern over the base, however, pricks his interest. He leans back on his left hand while examining John’s handiwork. “I assume the base doesn't meet such glowing reviews of competency.”

 

“I landed four hours ago and I’ve been able to infiltrate every major strut unnoticed and that's without the use of any equipment.” John informs him crisply, rising back to stand. There’s no reprimand in his words, but it’s a serious indictment of the operation nonetheless. Given John’s talents and the relative youth of the base, discovering the extent of his infiltration is hardly a surprise. Adam casts a glance at the decoy he’d mistaken for his intruder moments ago.

 

“A souvenir from your R&D department.” John replies, drawing his holstered sidearm popping the decoy once with a single shot from his Wu Silent Pistol. The decoy pops with a bang that fills the whole room, crumpling into a pile of plastic on the ground. It sounds like a reprimand.

 

Or a reminder. Albeit an unnecessary one. Adam’s never been one to get too comfortable, to forget that any security, however enticing, is temporary. A shot in the dark and Adam wouldn’t be getting up the next day or the day after. He can’t help but feel a buzz of excitement somewhere deep down, beyond his rational thought. It’s not as though its the first time John could have killed him and chose not too.

 

Though John often likes to forget that his life has been held in Adam’s hands on more than one occasion as well.

 

He sighs at the display, running his tongue over his lips before defending the base’s management, “We have plans to expand the security team, upgrade their equipment to full riot gear, install cameras at the weak spots. But we’re young. Right now most of the budget is allocated into either R&D or recruitment. And besides, I doubt we’re going to be facing anyone of your caliber any time soon.”

 

Adam wants to ask about Outer Heaven, but he bites his tongue. He’ll be told what he needs to know when he needs to know it and they have limited time.

 

“It’ll happen sooner than you think. In the long run it’ll be better to slow development to mitigate future losses. Security needs to start accounting for more of the budget. Imagine if I had been a hostile.”

 

“I’m still caught on the damage you caused as a friendly,” Adam purrs, brandishing his newly bandaged wrist in the light, a smirk pulling at his lips. It’s expertly wrapped, the soreness of his wrist fading under the supportive fabric. He could have been killed, true, but like hell he wouldn’t brought his assailant to the grave with him.

 

John allows the joke, smiling slightly, “My point still stands.”

 

“Of course it does.”

 

“I've drawn up a few plans for upgrades, identified which areas are particularly vulnerable to an enemy offensive. You’ll need to rewrite them obviously.”

 

“Obviously.”

 

As he walks over to his desk, John’s hand drops to the small of his back to guide him. The paper thin premise of supporting him shreds easily under Adam’s renewed strength. While coming up from the illusion is painful and temporarily incapacitating, the process is blessedly brief. He feels as spry as he ever has. Something he suspects John is well aware of, despite the press of his hand.

 

He’s unsurprised to see that John’s made full use of his desk. There’s a sheet of paper half the length of his arm filled with notes jotted down, orders disguised as informed suggestions. The familiar script makes him smile. Writing is too individualized for mimicry, a mainstay of his John’s personality the imposter never could quite absorb. It was never an issue during the preliminary considerations for the plan: it’s not as though the phantom would have much occasion to write, in the field or otherwise. But Adam takes care to appreciate the familiar hand as reads through the notes quickly, striking through any pending upgrades or plans.

 

“This is on the books, so is this…”

 

He murmurs as he moves through the list. It's not as though they are far off from John’s wishes rather that that they’re not yet wealthy enough to follow through on them. It shouldn't be an issue for much longer. As much as Miller likes to begrudge their purely monetary fuelled endeavours, the man's as good at connecting the Diamond Dogs with wealthy clients as he is and there’s no shortage of people requiring the phantom’s elite services.

 

If they begin redirecting funding soon, that combined with the bountiful amount of contracts and the phantom’s inexhaustible nature, they should be able to make headway on the most major upgrades by the end of the month.

 

He’s quietly thankful for his ambidextrous nature as he leans over the desk to copy down the notes in his own neat script. The pen practically flies with his tight royal blue script. Though he would have contested the necessity of  John visiting the base, clearly the man had deemed the excursion a necessary risk. They would have to be more mindful in the future.

 

John silently watches for a moment before losing interest, stubbing out his cigar on a paperweight and then circling Adam with careful steps. Adam watches him from the corner of his eye, listens to his almost soundless steps as he moves behind him and out of eyeshot.

 

It doesn’t matter how many times they’ve met, the months they’ve spent together or the years apart, Adam always gets the same dizzying feeling of breathlessness. Being around John feels like the thrill of the quick draw, the split second where he’s forced to look death in the eyes and be ready to move, either downward or forward. John takes that fraction of a second and unspools it, drags it over hours and days until the heady combination of fear and exhilaration feels as natural as a heartbeat.

 

Warm hands fall to Adam’s hip and he can’t bite back the smirk, his hand not hesitating for a moment as he details the future locations for the new security cameras on the primary R&D strut. He refuses to be distracted by John’s presence behind him, the way his fingers are idly teasing at the fabric of Adam’s shirt, tracing the line of his belt.

 

The pen tip slips, a “7” instead of a “1” as his thoughts move to more enticing territory. He scratches the error out with flourish, mentally chastising himself for the mistake.

 

“Concentrate,” John tuts, noting the slip up with idle attention even as he continues his wanton caresses.

Of course he’s completely aware of the distraction he’s being, but he’s never been overly unsympathetic to Adam under these kinds of circumstances. Always pressing, testing, seeing exactly how far he can push before the other man succumbs to what he wants. Adam draws a shallow breath, pen dropping to the next line. He’ll at least make him wait for it. The room is quiet save for the fragile sound of his pen scratching against paper and the whisper of John’s touches against his clothing.

 

Adam has more than half of the coordinates jotted down when John presses his hips flush against him, the bulge of his cock firm against Adam’s ass.

 

“When is exfil?” Adam asks, His voice sounds heavy even to him and John chuckles, continuing to skim and grope Adam’s figure with leisurely abandon.

 

“Three hours,” John rumbles and it sends shivers down Adam’s spine. He tugs the shirt tails out from Adam's pants and nimble fingers slip under his shirt to trace bare flesh, one hand skirting Adam’s stomach and side while the other lingers around his navel, flirting with moving southward.

 

As much as he wants to reciprocate the advances, he continues copying. Business comes first. Finished with the notes about security cameras, he moves on to the equipment upgrades to the security staff and additional training programs, the majority of which already exist somewhere in Miller’s folders. Nothing groundbreaking in these suggestions either, he muses.

 

“I don't know how many of these observations required a visit for you to notice,” Adam chides, shifting slightly against John under the pretence of getting more comfortable. He makes a low noise in response and Adam smirks over his writing. In truth John had only discovered three our four weak points that Miller and himself had missed, ones that once the security team had been expanded and sent out on patrols would have noticed.

 

“I think it was worth my time,” John replies and Adam is about to respond to the contrary when the other man’s mouth drops to kiss his neck. His lips are chapped but his mouth is hot and insistent, teeth scraping along his skin, tongue lapping at his pulse. The sensation stops Adam in his tracks, the pen slipping from his fingers as any remaining attempts to focus slip away. He groans, abandoning the task of writing to lean back into the man.

 

“No marks, John,” he reminds him breathily, as his hand moves to rest on top of John’s on his stomach “A sprain is one thing, I don't think I can explain one of your love bites.”

 

“Get creative,” John pushes, breath hot against his neck. His grip is tight, his hands splayed possessively over Adam’s torso. Adam arches his back against him, enjoying the attention for a moment longer before regretfully pulling away. He’s pinned against his desk as soon as he's turned around, fingers tugging at his belt. There’s a fire in John’s eye, a hunger that yearns for to be sated. Adam gives him a chastising look, resting his hands on his chest.

 

“Easy for you to say, I’m the one to who has deal with the headaches later.” The tone is playful, but the truth is that while injuries can be explained away, temporary clumsiness, a fall he’d forgotten, signs of intimacy couldn’t be so easily written off. A mark on his neck, even if he suppressed the memory, would raise questions. It wouldn’t matter if the staff started talking, or even Miller himself, but the danger was in Adam himself getting curious. Best case scenario, he’d become paranoid and suffer worse headaches, worst case he’d chase the anomaly and uncover the plan for the world to know.

 

Uncharacteristically, John doesn’t push the issue. Instead his hand moves to rest on Adam’s bandaged one, his eye flickering up to Adam’s with mischievous intent. There’s an idea in his head. A wicked one judging from his expression. Adam cocks his head, interested.

 

He lifts the injured appendage carefully. It’s momentarily jarring, recognizing how the same hand that hurt him can hold him like glass. John fixes him with a glance, “From CQC with the men.”

 

“I was going to suggest a fall, but that does sound more convincing,” Adam admits, averting his eyes. He runs preliminary training for the new recruits three times a week, it’s an obvious fit for the lie. How he didn’t think of the excuse immediately is beyond him. John’s voice brings him back from his temporary discontent at his own slow thinking.

 

“A fall?” John murmurs in disbelief, taking the opportunity to close the distance between them. Adam looks back him. He brushes away silver hair from Adam’s face. It’s almost paralyzing being caught in his sights.

 

John leans in and kisses him with a softness that belies his nature. Adam meets him eagerly, only to find him pulling away soon afterward.

 

“I thought cats always landed on their feet,” he teases in that soft voice of his, the one that’s reserved for when one of them’s naked and the sun hasn’t even contemplated rising.

 

Adam laughs shakily, feeling almost foolish for feeling so happy, “Now, you’ve seen me knocked on my ass enough times to know that’s simply isn’t true.”

 

“Speaking of which, how are you going to explain this?” John gives Adam’s ass a squeeze, cocking an eyebrow. Hickeys and bite marks are out of the question because they require another person, however, what John plans on doing can be done alone. It's a fact that Adam’s become intimately familiar with during the absent years. He gives gives John’s belt a tug as he delivers his answer.

 

“Enthusiastic self abuse, of course.”

 

John doesn't laugh only hums an acknowledgement.

 

“Miss me that much, huh?”

 

There’s something intoxicating about the quiet arrogance of the statement that gets Adam going. Since the moment they met, John’s had an almost magnetic effect to him, easily pulling him to the course John desired without hesitation or regret. John didn't quite realize it at first but once he did, things changed. Adam knows full well he would do anything for the man, including die for him.

 

That doesn't mean he’ll pass on the opportunity to test John’s own affections, however.

 

“It’s hard to miss you when it’s like you never left,” Adam counters, allowing the suggestion of infidelity to skate through, his face a perfect mask of indifference. It’s not as though pursuing after the Phantom would be a stretch given the circumstances, even though such pursuits would be unlikely to yield anything considering the man’s fondness for Quiet. Still, John doesn't need to know that.. He wraps his arms around John’s neck, his voice going low, serious, “but yeah, I missed this,” he amends, “you.”

 

Irritation, maybe even anger, flickers across John’s face for a second before disappearing under a cool veneer. Not so fast that Adam doesn't catch it, however. Amusement at his lie catches with the hot anticipation of a flame to a molotov. John kisses him again, harder this time. There’s more teeth than tongue and Adam gives as good as he gets, meeting John’s roughness with his own nips and snarls.

 

“Take your clothes off,” John orders once they break apart. His voice isn’t affected like Adam’s is, only the ghost of breathlessness tingeing some of his words. Low and authoritative, his soft voice is always commanding. It never waivers.

 

“Happy to oblige,” Adam replies coolly, striding past him, the belted shotgun shells falling to the ground with a thud as he moves towards to the bed. He’s already half hard in his pants and his lips are tingling from being mercilessly teased and bitten, but he takes his time carefully unbuttoning his shirt.

 

John undresses behind him, setting a few items on the desk before peeling himself out of the oily black sneaking suit. Adam listens to the heavy material gasp and relax as it eases off of John’s broad figure, his own clothing almost entirely on the floor.

 

John’s fingers announce his arrival as he traces along Adam’s hipbone. They kiss languidly, bodies barely touching.

 

“Why don’t you make yourself comfortable.” Adam purrs, nodding towards the bed before moving to grab the necessary supplies from his nightstand.

 

John sits at the edge, legs apart, and Adam can’t help thinking he’s seen this sight before except unlike the phantom, John’s expression isn’t sorrowful in the least. Instead, he is watchful and wicked. He’s appraising him, Adam realizes hungrily. He doesn’t care that he isn’t being subtle about it either. Adam can feel him tracking his movements, the line of his body searching for hints of someone else. He almost smiles at the lie. If John’s looking for traces of the Phantom’s hands, he won’t find any.

 

Adam tosses the bottle of lubricant and the condoms on the bed beside John before climbing on top of his lap easily, brushing his hair away from his face, kissing his temple, his nose. John makes a low noise of impatience, angling to meet Adam’s mouth with his own. He isn’t the only one who’s been waiting for this. Chuckling against him, Adam rolls his hips slowly, grinding his half hard cock against John’s.

 

“Careful,” John murmurs, working his way down the column of Adam’s neck and massaging Adam’s thighs with a tight grip. I always am, Adam thinks not unkindly, as he relishes the friction between them. Wrapping his bandaged arm around John’s neck, he drops the other between them, enveloping their cocks with easy strokes.

 

John groans at the contact, but isn't distracted from his course, trailing a path along Adam’s collar bone.

 

He’s almost convinced that John is going to follow the rules when John bites him just below his right pectoral, hard. It’s hard enough for Adam to inhale sharply, but not so much to leave teeth marks. He’s about to say something, when John looks up and gives him a self satisfied smirk, effectively stilling his tongue.

 

“I can’t believe one of the men got the drop on Ocelot,” John mimics drily, parroting the awe of a Mother Base recruit, nipping at him after each word for emphasis. Raw and heady, the pain is immediately not enough, teasing at further punishment. Adam exhales heavily, arching his back as John’s mouth moves deliberately, pulling up watercolour bruises from pale skin, pain blooming like wildflowers across his chest. Of course this was what John’s mind leapt to earlier.

 

“I can't believe it myself and I was there.” Adam murmurs, running a pre-cum slicked thumb over his slit, before resuming his strokes.

 

Adam hisses through his teeth at John’s rough ministrations get rougher and rougher. The bruises need to be deep and dark in order to be believable, but the low noises in John’s throat and his straining length speak to a very personal commitment to the job.

 

Once he’s satisfied with the first set of bruises he moves to start the second, nipping and teasing at Adam’s side. He pulls away only to drizzle lubricant over a few fingers, before guiding Adam up to his knees.

 

Returning to reddened skin on Adam’s side, John sucks and nips mercilessly while his fingers tease at penetration, circling the tight ring of muscles before dipping inward. Adam’s breath hitches when he slips the first finger in, smooth and unrelenting, his nails raising stinging white lines on John’s back as the man simultaneously wounds and gratifies.

 

He quickly works his way up to a second finger, then a third, all the while brutalizing Adam’s achingly pale skin until it glows red with abuse.

 

“Ready for me?” John asks, after giving the bruises a farewell swipe with his tongue, teasing Adam with a crook of fingers. Adam can't help but surge forward at the sensation, a smile hanging crooked on his mouth.

 

“Are we going to do this or what?” He answers, breathily.

 

It takes only a second for John to tear the packet and slip the condom on, a regrettable necessity given their situation, but it feels like forever. Adam moves where he has to, unwilling to relinquish territories gained, but the prospect of finally getting what he now knows he was denied for the better part of half a year sends excitement thrumming up his spine.

 

Still as impressive as it ever was, Adam notes thickly, regarding John’s cock with unabashed hunger before allowing John to guide him down. Each inch is a stretch, and Adam can’t stifle a whimper that escapes before John’s inside him to the hilt. Truthfully, it's been longer than he’d like to admit since he’d slept with anyone and even when they had been sharing a bed in Vietnam and the sparse months that followed, John has always been a lot to accommodate.

 

Adam breathes deeply as the pain subsides, taking the opportunity to kiss John, lazily nipping at his bottom lip while his body adjusts.

 

With a light hand he pushes John down so that he’s flat on his back on the mattresses and gives an experimental roll of his hips, relishing the aching throb of his skin, the fullness of John inside him and the arousal coiled tight as a whip in his gut.

 

He doubts he has very long in him, but willpower has been his friend before and as long as he doesn't touch himself he thinks maybe he can last as long as John wants him to.

 

John’s hand’s bracket his hips, thumb resting in the hollows of his hipbone as Adam rides him. Adam runs teasing fingers down John’s chest, charting the rise and fall of his breathes, mindful of the self-inflicted serpentine scar running the length of his torso. He savours the way John’s breath hitches when he comes down too suddenly, the soft rumbles of satisfaction when he presses forward.

 

There is nothing predatory in his eye now, only a devotion that borders on worship. Adam wonders if he ever looked at her like that.

 

“You've been gone too long,” Adam says, sighing as he finds the best angle. His tone is too breathy to be accusatory, but the fact that he reproaches John at all is surprising. Though he doubts there’s anything he wouldn't say when John has him wound right like this, fighting his own orgasm as much as he can. Why wouldn't his newly surfaced loneliness bleed through?

 

“Thought it was like I never left,” John intones, unwilling to forget the previous comments as he pulls Adam down onto him with a quick snap. Adam can barely bite back the moan the motion elicits, steadying himself with a palm pressed flat against his chest. John smirks at the reaction and Adam can't help but mirror his expression.

 

John rolls them easily, hoisting Adam’s leg up to accommodate deeper penetration. Adam can’t bite back the groan as John speeds up his thrusts, all hopes at lasting longer dissipating as John’s hip snap harder and harder, each thrust hitting him in just the right spot. His nails dig deeper into John’s back as he meets each thrust, his body nearing the breaking point. He pants, “Did I say that?”

 

“Yeah, you did,” John answers, his voice starting to show the strain of exertion as he drops a hand to stroke Adam’s straining and woefully unattended cock. Combined with his thrusts, Adam can’t keep quiet any longer, the noises he’s making especially obscene in the quiet room. John grins victoriously, enjoying the very obvious displays of sensitivity Adam’s showcasing against his will, “but I’m starting to think you were lying.

 

Adam can barely handle any more stimulation and in a few strokes he can’t fight it any longer. His orgasm swallows him whole, pleasure radiating through his whole body, spilling on his stomach messily as he comes with a whimper. John ducks down to kiss his neck, his hand tracing along Adam’s side as he rides the sensation out, coming undone himself only a few thrusts later.

 

He collapses onto Adam with little ceremony, the weight of his bulky, warm frame a welcome blanket even if Adam’s still feeling the aftershocks twitching through his figure. He runs a hand through John’s hair delicately. He won’t remember this moment tomorrow, probably not for another year maybe more depending on how things turn out. So he savours it, the taste of John’s salty skin on his lips, the coarse brown hair between his fingers, feeling enveloped by him like sunlight.

 

“You missed me, too,” Adam accuses without any heat. It’s more of a statement than anything, the words of the climax-addled, of the sickeningly sentimental but only in private. Things he could never bring himself to discuss with Eva or write in his notebooks. Only during the hours when the sun hasn’t even contemplated rising can he be this forward. John hums against him, his cock still a heavy presence inside him. He doesn’t want him to leave.

 

“Yeah,” John says, murmuring against Adam’s neck, his breath hot as a furnace, “Why else would I visit?”

 

Adam releases a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, continuing to absentmindedly run his fingers through John’s hair.

 

“Reconnaissance.”

 

John laughs.

 

The afterglow doesn’t last as long as Adam would like but its not as though they ever had much time to begin with. He indulges himself and dotes where he can and John takes advantage of the opportunity to do the same. Adam says things that he’s felt himself wanting to say, feels better when John answers easily. Conversation has always been effortless between them and there is pleasure in bantering like they once did. Speaking as though John won’t be gone tomorrow.

 

But it isn’t long until John is pulling back on his sneaking suit and Adam’s scanning the room for signs of his presence. They crack the windows while they make quick work of his disappearance, erasing any traces of their tryst from sight before addressing the issue of memory. When it looks like that everything has been addressed, John turns to him, two pills in hand. There’s a reluctance in his offer that Adam can’t help but catalogue. A memory to turn and examine someday.

 

“This one will put you to sleep, the other simulates a mild fever. It’ll be easier to go under again if you’re on bedrest,” He explains as Adam eyes the blue and white pills with resignation. No romantic farewells today, it seems, only the acrid taste of pills and the lump in his throat. He swallows them without issue and asks John conversationally, “I take it these aren’t doctor recommended?”

 

“They’ll help. I had to make sure it was safe, coming here” John answers, leading him to the bed. It doesn’t hold the same allure it did earlier. John continues, “After I put you under verbally, you’re mind is open to suggestion for a few minutes. I’ll feed you the excuses and when you wake up they’ll be the truth.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Adam answers uneasily, he can’t silence the disquiet in his mind. The process of forgetting, of the hypnotherapy, is something he knows better than most, both through personal experience and the years of subjecting the phantom to the same. You would think that it would help still his nerves in some respect, but doesn’t. His whole body is reeling away from going under again, even if it does mean helping John. It’s too painful.

 

He silences the resistance with a deep breath. “Are we gonna do it now?”

 

John nods. Adam nods back shakily as John moves behind him.

 

“You’ll visit again soon, right?” Adam says with faux cheer he doesn’t feel. At least this way he only has to feel John leaving for a few scant moments. No time to grieve or to feel alone, soon he’ll succumb to the artful illusions that keep his affections at bay. His devotion will return to the phantom, his every waking effort concentrated on a false idol while John builds his new world order with quiet determination. There will be a future for them to share then.

 

John tilts Adam’s head sideways and kisses him deeply. Adam kisses him back with as much fervour as he can, reluctant to break apart. The simple intimacy calms him like nothing else. John never answered the question, he realizes. It’s irrational, but heart drops anyways. He feels like he can’t breathe, the fear of submersion, the loss he doesn’t understand teasing at him from just outside his grasp, tearing the air from his lungs.

 

“I’ll do one better, I’ll come get you,” John says.

 

Adam smiles and he’s glad John can’t see the relief written so plainly on his face.

 

“Now remember, Adam” he begins, his breath hot against Adam’s ear, “two plus two equals five…”