Him in the Dust

by James Matthews

Chapter 6

Hot and Cold

July 27th, 2006

The guys stationed with our battalion have turned up for the repatriation of our friend. It's sad that it is for somebody so young. Another five soldiers are being repatriated as well. Blair has spent all that money on a new bomb-proofish vehicle but you've still got four guys with metal detectors out at the front of it and one commanding them. Sometimes I just don't get it. We need to invest in better bomb detection equipment and get more dogs out here. Surely there is something that we can use to trigger bombs off early?

I stand on the runway, watching as a coffin draped in our flag is loaded into a plane. I feel depressed. Demotivated. I wonder why I'm here. Lukas is standing next to me and gently brushes my hand with his.

"Must you?" I whispered, feeling the silence all around me.

"I'm worried about you."

"You're not my keeper."

"Talk to me!"

"Not here."

With the ceremony complete the day didn't get better. We got told that a checkpoint spotted two males lying prone and digging on the track where we keep getting hit. Then with all the fussing about we only fired warning shots at them. Another wasted opportunity. The fact is we have Taliban conducting patrols 800m away from our base and they are not getting touched. Why are we not smashing these patrols to pieces? Why are snipers not being used to counter the threat? It makes me fucking mad.

Tannoy for blood went off again. Another lad was killed in an explosion and one injured.

I head back to my tent...alone!

I was half awake in my thoughts, but half asleep in a lucid sketch in my mind able to control what was happening. It was a welcome relief from what I saw today and what I was hearing. My mind felt cold, even hostile. I felt in a selfish mood and was experiencing feelings and emotions which were so unlike me.

My current zen was shattered when I heard footsteps walking into our tent.

"Who is it?" I asked, lying on my bunk, not bothering to crane my neck.


"Oh, Lukas. Why aren't you playing football with the rest."

"We need to talk."

"About what?"

"You," he said. I heard the springs on his bed creak as he lay down. I finally decided to look over the side of my bunk and meet his gaze.

"Gonna hit on me again?"

"We'll be a couple soon, I can see you buckling and besides, no one cares for you like I do."

"Fuck off Lukas, I'm not in the mood for your bullshit."

"You need to talk to me."

I glared at him and sat up. "I don't need to DO anything, Lukas."

"Your mind is so fragmented. You are not eating properly. You are limping. You don't socialise with us and you never smile. I'd say you need to talk to me."

"I have a crick in my back from the last patrol, it's nothing."

"It's hurting you. Why don't you go to the medical centre and see a physio?"

"Why are you so interested in my wellbeing?"

"Because I happen to think a lot of you and more."

"And more," I asked, already knowing all about this but intrigued.

"Will you let me take care of you?"

"No homo?"

"I can't promise." Lukas signed. "Do you know how frustrating you are, just give it up."

"Give what up," I asked, jumping down from my bunk yelping. I got a bottle of water from the cupboard.

"Take your shirt off and shorts and lay on my bed."

I turned back and looked at him, taking a swig from the now open bottle. "Not in your life."

Lukas tilted his neck. "Seb, I've seen everything, you forget!"

"Anyway why?"

"Because I am a medic and want to take a look at you"

"I'm fine."

"DO as I say soldier, or I will recommend you are not fit for duty."

"You wouldn't dare!"

"Get undressed soldier, so I can examine you."

Lukas looked serious. Like a seriousness I had seen before but he usually teased me after a short time. But not this time. His stern face was making me undress and I really didn't want to.

I lay down on my front on his bed. He sat on the edge and I could feel him looking me over. I was sure in my mind there was a sexual dimension to this, but what the hell, I was on his bed now, almost naked and not about to ignore his medical assertiveness.

"Massive knot, right above the left kidney, just below the rib."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I can get it out but it will hurt."

"How bad."

"You'll probably scream."

"Just do what you gotta dooOOO AHHHHRRRRHHHH, FUCKING SHIT!"

"Easy, easy. Breathe Seb. Nice deep breath and then out as much as you can."


"Nearly there, keep breathing, I'm gonna push it out."


"There, it's out."

"Fuck I am in so much pain!"

"Just lay there for a moment, it will pass. I'm gonna massage gently down to get the muscle less angry."

I felt Lukas gently, and with great care use his hands to rub around the painful areas. It was actually reeeeally nice and then he asked me to turn over.

"What's up? I said turn over, I need to see the connecting tissue."

"Erm, well I can't right now."

Lukas looked at me strangely. "You ok?"

"Yeah fine!" I uttered quickly.

Lukas began to smile. "You're hard aren't you? You have a fucking boner!"

"Ok you got me, so what!"

Lukas reeled his neck back and smiled, looking at me. "Well I know I have healing hands but I'm flattered."

"Look it's...well it's an affliction I have."

"What is?"

God this is embarrassing, I thought. "Well, sorta….erm, well when I experience bad pain I get an erection. I always have since I was a kid."

"Oh, wow. Ok, well now I'm actually pretty insulted now. Here's me thinking I might have actually turned you on?"

"Very funny! Just give me a minute ok?"

"Sure thing. In fact I'm going to the med unit to get some heat packs. Hopefully your cock will have played ball by then."

Before I could say a word, Lukas walked out of our tent and I was alone again, laying on his bed in more pain than I was just moments ago. I continued to lay there knocking my feet up and banging my heels on my arse and then down again.

Just then I felt something on my foot and craned my neck round to see what it was.

Lukas's diary!

Now I know I shouldn't. I mean I really know it's bad but I couldn't stop myself. I shifted around and sat up, grabbing the moleskin book in my hands. I flicked through random pages.

Today I met the most beautiful looking boy. Just moved dorms. He looks scared and vulnerable. He's stunning. I must get near him.

He said hello today. I felt electric, he's got such a lovely voice. It;s warm and so cute!

I flicked through a few more pages. There were just entries filled with stuff about me. I read on, a few pages through,

His name is Seb! Cute name. He's definitely straight. Such a sexy thought, I just wanna cuddle him. He looks lost, but he;s assertive and intelligent. Fuck me it's so attractive.

I need him. I want him. What will I do if he says no?

Watched him sitting in full fatigues today on a truck. Holding a gun. He's deep in thought. I just wanna talk to him. He seems lost in thought. That face. That beautiful blond hair. I love the way his soft stubble lays on his face, shining in the sun. So blond. Sharp piercing blue eyes. Fuck me those eyes tell a million stories.

He doesn't notice me. I'm not sure if we're friends. I'm pushing too hard.

I heard footsteps getting nearer and shoved the book back down the side of his bed and tried to replicate my previous position.

"Here, I got 4. Let me put this on you, it will help the pain. Do you mind?"

"If I did?"

"I like you too much not to help you."

"Uh, Yeah, evidently," I muttered under my breath.

"Sorry, what was that?"


Lukas slowly pulled on the waistband of my boxers and placed a heat pad on the place he left me in excruciating pain,

"So how was my diary?"

I coughed involuntarily. "Uh...erm, what?"

"My diary. How much did you read?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"First, you're a bad liar. Second, I left it slightly hanging out and now it is out of sight."

"I must have moved it with my foot?"

"You read it, and I wanted you to. By reading it you would really see how I feel about you and I wanted that to sit with you for a while. Right now you are wondering whether to carry on lying to me or just come clean and say you read it. Once you admit it I'd be interested to know how my written feelings about you made you feel."

With my heat pad getting to work I sat up on Lukas's bed, with him sitting beside me and let out a big sigh.

"I read a little okay?"


"And what, I've told you I just don't feel that way about you. And yeah okay I admit it I was flattered myself that you like me. But....I mean I like your company and I like our conversations when you aren't analysing me but it really does stop there. I can't force myself to feel what you want me to fe….

"Do you think I'm good looking?" Lukas interrupted.

I looked him directly in the eyes. "Honestly, I have never really thought about it, but Yes I think you are good looking."

"Are you saying that because you think I am or because you think it's what I want to hear?"

"Uh, well, erm, No, I actually do think you are good looking. You have a nice body and a nice face and I think many people would be lucky to have you."

Lukas paused. "And what if I didn't want anyone. What if I only wanted to be with one person?"

"Then it all depends on whether that person wants to be with you and you need to respect that maybe they don't."

"Hmm, good answer, and logical."

"So do you know when Jack and Tank are back?"

"Why, so we can pop your cherry?"

I blushed. I fucking blushed. "Lukas, you really are something else."

"But you love me right?"

"Of course I do," I said, squeezing his knee and regretting it, realising the fucking obvious.

"It hurts when I hear you say that. My mind imagines that you mean it in a way that I know you don't."

"And...and I hurt because I'm hurting you, and I don't know what to do."

Lukas smiled. "Give in?"

"Jesus you are relentless!"

Lukas kissed me on the cheek, making me chuckle. "What?" he asked. Banging my knee with his.

"I was just thinking. Out on patrol. You do actually make me feel really safe."

"That's my job, and I enjoy looking out for you. It's as close as I can get."

"You really got it bad for me huh?"

"Lukas stood up and faced me. "It's funny. If anyone else in the whole world had just said that I would have barked at them and said don't fucking flatter yourself."

"But you didn't"

"No Seb, because I'd be lying. Yeah, I got it bad for you, and I was thinking. Well maybe I should request an accommodation change. I mean, it's easily done. There are spare bunks everywhere so I'm told."

"You would really leave?"

"Seeing you here...normally undressed. That lazy blond James Dean gaze you have. It's fucking killing me. Each day is a battle not to just lunge at you and kiss you and hold you and make sure you're ok."

"I like you Lukas. I mean it's fucking weird having this conversation with you. It's not something I have ever had to deal with before. I mean… well I've never had another boy tell me they like me or...well do what you are doing.

"Ca...can I touch you?"

I looked at Lukas perplexed. "Where?"

"Just hold you?"

"What here...like now?"

"Why not, we're alone."

"That almost sounds seedy," I said, giggling nervously.

Lukas placed his hand in mine and pulled me up to a standing position and pulled me into a gentle hug. I was expecting this to be a rather uncomfortable and weird experience. But actually It felt nice. Some people are just good huggers and Lukas certainly was.

With his cheek resting on mine we just stood there. I even closed my eyes just to see what I would feel. It was okay.

"How do you feel," Lukas whispered, as we stood in silence.

I sniggered. Not knowing why. "Safe" I said after a few seconds. "I feel safe"

"Good," was all he replied. "Do you want me to let go?"

I hesitated. I was enjoying this. I know for him it was for a different reason from me but as a tear ran down my cheek, I didn't have time to reply as the wetness must have touched his cheek too.

"No. No, I don't want you to let go."

Lukas started gently swaying us and brought his hand up to my cheek and wiped the tear away before looking into my eyes.

"Tell me." He said, seriousness in his expression.

I sighed. "This hug. It's...well it's really nice and I got upset because No one has ever shown me much emotion before. I just got a bit overwhelmed.

Lukas pulled me back in and gently rubbed my back. "Everyone needs a bit of love now and again. I'm glad you let me do this."

"Can I try...you know, to see how it feels. I mean I guess you want to anyway but I might not like it, I just wanna try."

Lukas pulled away and looked at me again. "Try what?"

"I'll kiss you, okay? I'm not saying it's gonna happen again, but I'll try. And...and if I feel nothing then you really have to let this go."

Lukas pushed me away and walked out of the tent leaving me standing there utterly bemused and confused. "What the fuck!" I muttered.

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