The way he looks at her picture, I'm not sure I can ever compete. He is so loyal, so devoted, and he only knew her for three weeks before her went to war. I have known him for years now, fought beside him, escaped with him, got caught again with him. She can’t know him as well as I do, he can’t know her as well as he knows me, and yet he has only eyes for her.
He doesn't show me the letters. I get a glimpse of some now and then, when he reads hers over and over or writes to her in return secluded in quiet corners. I could never make out more than a few words. They censor our letters so she only gets half of the words he writes, maybe less, yet still she writes back.
The last letter from her changed him. He is impassive, with dark circles blooming around his eyes and the others call him "Zombie Jack". He refuses to talk to me, cries at night. I want nothing more than to soothe his pain, long to hold him close. Will he ever let me?
I walk over to him where he lies on his cot, staring at the ceiling. He took down her picture but his hand still touches the place where it was before.
"Jack, the new plan’s coming along well. Want to join us?"
There is no new plan. He must surely know, or perhaps not, that I'd never leave him here alone?
"Nah," he says, voice hoarse.
"Come on, don't give up now."
"I gave up weeks ago, Willis. She was the only thing that kept me alive in here, don't you understand?"
He looks at me, weary but thoughtful. I miss the adventurous gleam in his stormy eyes. If he could only know that yes, I do understand. I have to ask, this is my chance.
"The only thing, are you sure?"
I manage a little smile, want to make sure he sees that I want to cheer him up. And for the first time in weeks, there is light in his eyes again. It might be the memory of our adventures, I don’t dare think that it is due to my company.
"No, not the only thing," he says, looking me in the eyes. His voice is raspy from his many days of silence, sounding much like it does after they release us from solitary confinement, but I hear a soft undertone and his lips curve up ever so slightly.
I notice looks from him, looks that weren't there before. The first few times I caught him looking he averted his eyes. Now he gives me little smiles and I find myself smiling back, hope swelling in my chest.
He is so small. Or am I too tall?
When we stand opposite each other, it would be so easy to press a soothing kiss to his forehead. I’d only have to move forwards just so, since he stands closer to me now. It would be so easy, and yet it is so difficult.
When he looks up at me it makes me want to wrap my arms around him. Protect him from bullets, sadness and loneliness. If only he'd let me.
He sits beside me on the bench in the yard, his body leaning towards mine as he reads. Does he notice?
He turns slightly, which makes it easier for him to settle against my side and I welcome him. He doesn't stop reading and I am aware of the warmth of his body. There is no reason for him to do so other than for comfort. The feeling is heady, it's a closeness we have never shared before. We are not on the battlefield, we are not escaping, and no one is hurt and needing support. He is searching for comfort and I provide it. And I enjoy it. He does as well, makes a contented noise when I toss away my cigarette, stretch my arm along the cold stone wall behind us and let him settle even closer against my shoulder.
When he pulls me abruptly into a little room, it feels like we are about to escape and need to hide quickly, adrenalin pulsing through my veins. But we aren't. Though it feels just as urgent, just as desperate, only different. He closes the door without letting go of my arm, pushes me against it and looks up at me. Then he slowly lifts himself up on his tiptoes to close the gap between our mouths, but waits for me to cover the last inch and seal our lips. I bend my neck and suddenly we are kissing.
He seems to have experience and I hope my lack of it isn't disappointing. He doesn't seem to mind, opening his mouth and running his tongue over my lips. I shiver and gasp, he uses the opportunity to slip his tongue past my lips and my hands grab fistfuls of his shirt. When he pulls away we are both breathless and it feels as though a lifetime has passed. He runs his fingertips over my cheekbones and smiles warmly at me. His lips are red and wet and the realisation that it was the pressure of mine that caused them to look so makes me feel oddly proud.
I am unable to fall asleep, can still feel his full lips pressed against mine. The sound of his breathing is distracting, even though he doesn’t lie by my side and is not the only person breathing in this room.
He keeps smiling at me, keeps touching me, keeps kissing me until I can't resist initiating intimate contact as well. No one ever notices when we disappear together, not more than before when we used to discuss new plans. I've never been intimate with someone before and I feel I should tell him because his kisses get more desperate and urgent each time. He just grins at me when I do, a little shy, cheeks rosy.
"What makes you think I've ever done it?" He bites his bottom lip and looks at me from under his lashes.
I want to say, ‘your bravery, your beauty, your loyalty, your skilled tongue, your cleverness –someone must have wanted you before me’, but I only shrug and he smiles.
"I haven't done it before, but I want to, with you."
I pull him into a hungry kiss, hoping it is an adequate response because words often fail me when we are together like this.
“Don’t fall asleep later, I have a surprise,” he tells me over dinner, his head is tucked low between his shoulders and his eyes gleam mischievously. I don’t see him again until a few minutes before the lights go out and he slips into his cot, winking at me.
I lie awake, waiting, until about half an hour later I hear him getting up and rummage about. Then he comes over, his steps not audible, I only see his shadow.
“Hey, come on up, follow me,” he whispers, his hand touching my shoulder briefly.
When I get up he puts a coat under my covers, tucks it in and then takes my hand, pulling me with him.
The room we enter is dark, the blinds shut.
“Stay here, just a moment,” he whispers to me after closing and locking the door silently.
His night vision must be much better than mine, he moves around steadily, then strikes a match and lights a candle. I don’t even want to think about what he traded for it. Thanks to the dim light I can now see that there are blankets spread out on the ground and one pillow. I look at him and he smiles warmly, moving towards me.
“I want to spend the night with you, Willis,” he says quietly, pulls me close and kisses me sweetly. “We can’t fall asleep here, but we’ve got a few hours. What do you say?”
“Jack…,” I say, words failing me as usual. “Yes,” I finally breathe against his lips, my heart beating much too fast in anticipation.
He huffs in relief, has he been afraid of rejection? I wrap my arms around him and kiss him deeply to reassure him. He melts into it with a sigh.
When he pulls away it’s only to take off his shirt. “You too,” he says as he drops it on the floor and leans in to kiss me again.
I oblige, fumbling with my buttons. It feels so natural to let him be in charge here, to do what he says when he seems to be much more confident in this area than I am.
Before I can put my pyjama top onto a nearby box, his hands are already on me.
“Finally,” he murmurs as he drops kisses on my chest, making me shiver. I put my hands carefully on his hips, not knowing where else to put them. The skin there is warm and soft and I hold on tighter as he strokes his hands slowly up and down my sides. We are both lost in sensation for a while; exploring, enjoying, touching, kissing.
“Come on,” he whispers and pulls me towards the blankets. Before he sits down, he takes off his pyjama bottoms and underwear, then sprawls on the floor in front of me in all his naked glory, his skin glowing gold in the candlelight. He reaches out his hand. “Join me.”
His beauty overwhelms me. I’ve seen his naked body countless times in the showers, but never quite dared to look at him in that way. Averting my eyes or closing them, only recollecting the memories on nights when the longing was unbearable and I needed to find some release.
Now he invites me to look, to touch, and I can’t hold back any longer. I strip down without much finesse, take his hand and join him on the blankets. I lie down beside him and he leans over, soothing my nervousness with a kiss, his hand coming to rest on my chest. He must feel how fast my heart is beating.
The way he is pressed along my side I can feel his hardness against my hip and his breath against my neck where he trails kisses down to my shoulder. My arm lies uselessly between us so I wrap it around his shoulders, pull him against me because I want him even closer than he is already. I don’t know what else to do, but he makes a pleased noise and lets his hand wander further down my body.
Arousal pools hot in my stomach and a shiver runs through my body. His hand stops, rubbing slow circles over my belly. He pushes himself up on an elbow and looks at me, eyes blown wide and his expression kind.
“We don’t have to do anything more, you know. Just lying together with you, like this,” he wiggles against me and feeling his erection hot against my skin makes me suck in my breath involuntarily. “I’ve thought about it so often.”
I swallow, my mouth feels dry all of a sudden. I admire his honesty, that he can freely admit to his fantasies about us. My cock aches, it’s so hard that it lies flush against my stomach and his hand is so close and yet unbearably far away.
“What else did you think about?” I ask breathlessly.
“Oh my love, I’ll show you, if you let me. But one step at a time.”
He’s kissing me again, deep, slow and with a low moan escaping his mouth. His hand still hasn’t moved downwards. I can’t take it any longer and move my hips up a bit, wiggle against him and curl my fingers at the nape of his neck. I want more but don’t know how to ask for it, don’t even know exactly what it is I want him to do.
“Please,” I manage to press out against his lips, but it sounds more like a sigh than a word. He understands, though, smirks at me and licks his lips.
“You want my hand on you, is that what you want?”
“Yes, oh please. Jack…” I let my head fall back against the pillow, my thoughts are clouded with arousal and I trust him to know what makes me feel good.
“Hmm yes, it’s one of the things I dream about at night,” he whispers, lays his head on my shoulder and watches as he takes my cock in hand.
I gasp soundlessly. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know I can’t be loud but it’s so difficult to hold back and not scream at how wonderful his touch feels.
He pulls gently at my length at first, then adds more pressure to his strokes and in the same rhythm rolls his hips against my side. The little noises he makes, broken and so beautiful, are making it even harder to keep quiet. I squirm and grunt, push my hips up to meet his hand.
He throws one leg over mine. I don’t know whether to keep me in place or to have a better angle for himself or both, but it feels more intimate either way.
“Shhh I know, I know,” he manages to say in between heavy breaths. “Some day we are going to do this and we can be as loud as we want. I’m going to make you scream, Willis. Oh yes, the things I’ll do to you will make you scream in pleasure.”
His talking to me like this makes me imagining things I never dared to think about before, and I find it hard to keep my eyes open even though I want to keep watching the movements of his hand.
We are both panting now, our bodies moving against each other –no, with each other.
When my climax washes over me I have my hand buried in his hair and press his head against me where it lies on my chest. I whisper his name, over and over, in breathless huffs. He keeps stroking me through it while his hips lose their rhythm and stutter. When he spills his release I feel it warm between us and he makes a throaty little noise, his cock now sliding slippery along my side until he stills and sighs softly.
His body lies boneless half on top of me and I can’t seem to stop stroking his hair. We are catching our breaths in silence until he tilts his head and stretches up to meet my mouth. The kiss we exchange is sloppy, wet and slow. We are both too exhausted for finesse and also too happy to care about the stickiness of our bodies.
Sometime later he gets up and produces something like a damp cloth to clean us up as best as he can, then huddles close again and pulls one of the blankets around us.
I don’t know how much time has passed, but it feels as though we should make our way back soon before we’re missed. He is lying in my arms, sprawled all over me, our legs entwined under the blanket. His breath is even, his muscles relaxed, he is about to fall asleep like this.
I kiss the top of his head, then his hairline, because it’s all I can reach without having to move.
“Jack? You are falling asleep,” I whisper into his hair and squeeze his shoulder softly.
“Hmm?” He mumbles. “Just dozing and basking, not sleeping.” His lips brush my nipple in a way that feels like it was intentional, and I can feel his lips stretch into a grin when my body shivers at the teasing touch.
When his tongue darts out and licks across it, I almost fail to suppress the loud moan that threatens to escape my throat. My cock swells again, twitches against his leg under the blanket. He hums, obviously pleased with my reaction and then sucks my nipple into his mouth.
A wave of arousal makes me bold enough to flip us around. He huffs in surprise, a delightful little sound, and looks up at me from where he lies underneath me. His expression lighthearted and happy in a way I’ve never seen before. His lips curve into a challenging smile and I can see anticipation written so clearly on his face, even in the dim light of the single candle. He waits for what I’m about to do next with his eyes wide open and I kiss him deeply. I settle my body gently on top of his and start rocking against him leisurely.
His eyes are closed in bliss when I pull away, his head rolls back on the pillow, exposing the delicate skin of his neck for me to taste. I’m hungry for more now and no longer afraid to take what I want, what I need. When I trail kisses down his neck and chest, his fingertips ghost over my back. A light touch, encouraging me to explore further and not holding me in place.
“I’m going to make sure you don’t fall asleep anytime soon,” I say, voice trembling but not stopping to kiss my way down his stomach. I will never forget the helpless sound he makes, raw and needy, when I crawl under the blanket and kiss the tip of his cock.
“Let’s make one more plan, Willis,” he says to me. His head lies in my lap and my fingers are in his hair, slowly stroking through the softness. “One more. And this time we are going to make it, just the two of us. We are going to make it and when the war is over, we are going to go somewhere we can be just us, yes?”
He looks eager and there is hope in his eyes. It makes him look even more beautiful, unbearably so. He knows by now that I can’t deny him anything.
“Yes,” I answer and bend down to kiss his forehead. “Just us.”