Blaze of Glory
Chapter 3 - Zurich


Where the ravages of war still haunted Munich, Zurich shone as a monument to modern prosperity. The people didn't huddle together in suspicious clumps, and they didn't eye his uniform with a strange mixture of resentment and hope. They ignored him, mostly - too busy getting on with their lives to take note of an out of place American soldier. Theirs was a world of magnetizing prosperity, a world that attracted anyone with the means to get to the city. If the U.S. Army wanted to let their little boys wander into the Swiss enclosure, it was no business of theirs.

The indifference his uniform inspired made it all the more striking when one young man stared at him from a shop window. Hank paused, rooted to the spot by the man's earnest gaze. He looked around, trying to see if maybe there was someone else the man was staring at, but the people on the street flowed around him like water around a rock.

After a moment, the young man moved away from the small group of friends gathered around him, out of view of the window, and appeared on the street. Hank watched, mesmerized, as the fellow closed the gap between them. The man was small, almost as small as a woman, but his strong jaw and heavy brow gave him a quiet solidity. He smiled sweetly at Hank. "American?"

"Yes, sir."

"You come from Munich?" The young man's accent was thick, but his words were clear.

"Uh, I'm stationed there, yeah. You, uh, you been to the base?"

The young man shook his head. "American men don't like men like me." He shrugged. "I like your uniform. I want to look. I want to make one for my... friends."

Hank frowned. "Why wouldn't American men like men like you? I thought the Swiss were supposed to be neutral...?"

The man laughed. "There are American men like me, I'm sure, but I don't think they would be allowed to wear this uniform. I think they would beat up a man like me in this uniform."

"And what's a man like you?"

The young man stepped back, and said, quite loudly, "One that would get on his knees to lick you."

Hank's mouth dropped open, and his face burned hot. He stared at the bold young man, while his brain scrambled to find a response that didn't involve a lot of squeaking or stuttering.

The man's friends soon joined him on the street, and began chattering at and around him in French. He chuckled at a few things they said, but he kept his eyes on Hank. He licked his lips and ran his hand through the long, unruly bangs that fell over one eye.

Hank found himself straightening out his uniform and moving closer to the group. Everyone quieted and looked at him suspiciously - everyone but the gamine little fellow who'd spoken so boldly. He looked up at Hank with the same little smirk and waited.

"Nobody's beat me up yet," Hank said.

The man looked up at him with a gaze that could split diamonds, and only patriotic pride kept Hank from staggering back under the intensity. He tugged on his uniform, set his jaw, and reminded himself that he was a man trained to shoot human beings and run towards blazing infernos. One flirtatious little boy in the middle of a busy street was no threat.

"Hey," one of the other youths said, and Hank was surprised to find the group watching him warily. "No trouble," the new boy said, though the nervous fist clenching and heavy breathing seemed to indicate otherwise.

"No trouble," Hank said, and looked each youth in the face, until he locked eyes with the firecracker who'd started it all. "Right? You want something better than trouble, right?"

The young man smiled, revealing a mouth full of big, white teeth, all squeezed together like there wasn't quite enough room in his mouth to house them all. "Go to the cafe," he said, and touched a button on Hank's jacket. "I want a different snack."

The protective fellow said something in rapid fire French, but Hank's new friend waved him off with a languid response. Then he touched Hank's arm. "We go?"

Hank hesitated. "What'd you tell your friend?"

The protective one spoke up. "If he comes back bleeding, we go to Munich."

Again, Hank's jaw dropped. "I only fight in self defense," he stammered.

"We go," the smaller man repeated impatiently. "I trust you."

"One more thing," Hank said. "I have no money, so if you wanna be paid, I have to turn you down."

The young man shook his head. "I don't want money. I want to look at your uniform. I want to..." He frowned then, and looked at his friends.

"Fuck," the protective one said blandly.

"Fuck." There was a world of difference in an offer of vocabulary, and an offer of action, like the difference between a match and a roman candle. Hank knew it, his suitor knew it, his suitor's friends knew it. Even if they didn't all know the words, they knew what he meant, and that he wouldn't be dissuaded from going off with the strange American.

Hank was nearly giddy with the thought of disrobing the little man, of seeing what lay underneath the baggy coat and pants that nearly swallowed him whole. For the first time, he let himself imagine touching a strange man's body, and heat flooded him in a rush that left him swaying. "Lead the way, friend," he said, and was surprised by the warm, furred quality of his own voice.

The hotel room was so small that Hank thought if he laid on the floor and stretched, he could touch every wall. It was clean though, and the bed, which at nearly twice the width of his standard issue bunk, took up most of the available floor space. It made the room look positively decadent.

They had been silent since breaking away from the boys on the street - even paying for the room had been a silent affair, where Hank waited outside of the lobby before his new friend fetched him. Now that they were alone, and the moment was upon them, Hank found his voice had dried up and withered away, carried off on the wind of nervous anticipation.

His companion seemed far more at ease, and set about opening shutters, drawing curtains, and turning down the bed before finally turning his attention to Hank. "So," he said with a sly smile. "How do you like it?"

Hank looked around at the room, choked on the dust in his throat, and shrugged.

The other fellow cocked his head. "Not the room. This." A gesture between them, a small waggling of impossibly long fingers. "How do you like it, fast? Hard? Soft?"

Hank hoped the fine tremor that started down his back wasn't terribly obvious. "I..."

His companion's face softened. "You're new."

"I guess," Hank managed to choke out.

"You can do it the same way if I was a girl. I don't mind."

Hank laughed a little. "Uh..."

Understanding dawned. "You're very very new!"

Hank dropped down onto the edge of the bed and covered his face with his hands. "This is ridiculous."

His hands were soon pulled from his face, and impossibly long fingers interlaced with his own. His companion stood there, smiling warmly at him. "After today, you will not be new. You let me have a soldier, and I will give you your manhood."

Hank had always wished his mother had given him the talk. He'd over heard her giving it to his sister, and wondered why he'd had to listen to his father fumble and stutter a string of contradictions that left Hank afraid to even think about being naked with another person.

Now, on the train back to Munich, Ma's words rang clear and true in his head. You don't forget your first time. Things will fade. Details will blur. But you don't forget the important parts, the primal parts.

Already the bulk of the hotel room was lost to time - the walls were light, but he couldn't really say if they were tan or beige or eggshell, he couldn't tell if they were painted or colored plaster or wallpapered. He knew they were close, but that was only because it made for a closer communion with his bed partner, a surprisingly pleasant touch.

He remembered the slide of skin on skin, the press of a hard, flat body to his own hard, flat body, the juxtaposition of soft, smooth lips and rough, calloused fingertips.

He couldn't recall the exact sound of the man's voice - and young though he was, he was a man, not a boy, just as Hank was no longer a boy, and what a surprise it was to find that this minor, unspoken, almost undetectable shift in the self was significant exactly because it was detected - but he could remember with ease the intense swell of feeling that washed him every time his bed partner spoke.

He didn't remember disrobing completely, but he knew he had because his partner admitted, in the brief afterglow they shared, that the uniform hadn't been necessary after all.

He didn't remember feeling the earth shake when his body tensed and released. But he already wanted to find another strong, trim, confident man to press close to himself, and he could feel a now familiar ache starting in his thighs.

Hank squeezed his eyes shut and forced himself to think about what might happen if his battalion found out where he'd gotten off to. Almost instantly, his arousal died - Hank was not a fan of pain, and a beating absolutely did not appeal to him in the least.

With that understanding came a strangled, frustrated realization. As far as his battalion was concerned, he was the same virgin he'd been when they'd dragged him to the party. Only now he had an internal understanding of the looks they shared when a local fraulein sashayed past them, an understanding that became painfully obvious to him when a handsome young man accompanied his very smitten lady friend onto the train. Hank sighed. He was going to have to become an actor, and fast.

Chapter 2
Chapter 4

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