“Where are we going, sir?”
“I told you you’d find out when we got there.”
“That hardly seems fair, sir, considering I’m the one as doing the driving. It’s been hours.”
“You don’t want to ruin your surprise, do you, Benton?” The Brigadier stretched out comfortably in the passenger seat of Benton’s 1968 Ford Escort. One of his fingers tapped a silent rhythm on his knee. “Besides, we’re almost there.”
“Well, I can’t see a thing,” Benton protested, peering forward into the inky darkness. “By the time we get to wherever it is we’re going, I’ll be too exhausted to do anything.”
“Oh, I hardly think that’ll be true,” the Brigadier countered, smiling slyly. “You’re used to pulling double shifts, Sergeant. This is no different.”
“It’s much different, sir,” Benton protested, casting a glance to his commanding officer. When he caught the smile on the Brigadier’s face, however, he broke into a shy one of his own. “This is crazy,” he breathed.
“So you’ve said.”
“Not for at least ten minutes.”
“I do enjoy living on the edge, you know. It keeps things interesting, and was one of the reasons I joined the military to begin with.”
“Yes, sir. I do what needs to be done, but really, I prefer a quiet life,” Benton replied, eyes back on the road.
“Which is, of course, why you’re slipping away with your commanding officer after hours, with no clue where he’s taking you.”
“I trust you, sir,” Benton simply said.
“And I you, Sergeant.”
There was an awkward stretch of silence before Benton quietly said, “You can call me John now, you know, sir.”
“Mm,” the Brigadier mused non-committal, studying Benton’s profile in the wane light from the passing vehicles. “Does it bother you that I don’t?” he asked.
“Yes,” Benton said, without hesitation.
“I’m rather fond of ‘Benton’ myself,” the Brigadier countered.
“But my name is John, sir.”
Somewhat tartly, the Brigadier snapped, “And I suppose next you’ll want to start calling me Alistair?”
For a few seconds, Benton said nothing, merely tightening his grip on the steering wheel. “If you’d like me to, sir.”
“We’ll see about that.” Sitting up in his seat, the Brigadier peered into the darkness. “Take a left at the next turn.”
It didn’t take long after that for them to arrive at a quiet little cottage nestled against the backdrop of the woods. In the near distance, water glistened in the darkness. Once Benton shut the Escort’s engine off, they were cast into near darkness. Only the moon above gave any light, and they could hear nothing but the sounds of insects singing in the surrounding trees.
The Brigadier got out and popped the boot of the car to retrieve their suitcase. Benton stood beside the Escort, admiring the crisp, peaceful night, taking in the Brigadier’s surprise. “This is quite nice,” he said.
“I’m glad you approve,” the Brigadier replied. “I thought you might. I’m just glad we were both able to get away at the same time for once. Now, come and help me carry this inside, Benton.”
“John, please,” he replied, moving around back, to pick up the suitcase.
“You know what trouble I could get into if I start habitually calling you that and the men start suspecting something, don’t you?” the Brigadier asked as he fished house keys out of his pocket. He led the way up the steps to the front door of the cottage.
“Yes, sir,” Benton replied, trailing after him. “But you’re more careful than that.” He paused in the open doorway to the cottage, waiting for the Brigadier to get some light going. “Besides, you call Captain Yates, Mike and Captain Turner, Jimmy all the time.”
“Well, they’re captains, Benton,” came the Brigadier’s disembodied voice. There was the sound of movement as the man worked his way through the darkness, searching for a light. “Besides,” he patiently said, “they aren’t the ones I’m taking to my cottage to seduce while off duty. People would talk. Do not under estimate the power of gossip.”
The Brigadier struck a match and was suddenly brightly illuminated for one brief moment. He bent over a kerosene lamp and soon had it glowing. Benton closed the door behind him, now able to see and carried the suitcase to the lounge, setting it on the floor. “Forgive me for being forward, sir, but it seems to me,” he said, “that you should be able to say the first name of the man you’re seducing.”
Over the lamp, the Brigadier fixed his cool eyes on Benton. His expression was stony and unreadable, but he studied his companion for several seconds. “You may be right, Sergeant, but sometimes it’s just better to take precautions against that sort of thing.” He turned to hang the lamp on a hook against the wall.
Benton was not the sort to argue against authority, especially not the Brigadier’s authority, but this was something he felt rather strongly about. “Some things are worth the risk,” he said quietly.
The cottage was small. The kitchenette and den were combined and there was only one other room, a bedroom with an adjoining water closet. It was clear the Brigadier could not help but hear Benton, but the man did not reply. Instead, he set about lighting the small fireplace, his back to the Sergeant.
Sighing resignedly, Benton said, “I’ll see about something for dinner.”
There wasn’t much to eat in the cottage, but Benton managed a pleasant meal with the canned foodstuffs he found. The water from the tap ran ice cold and clear, and the Brigadier unearthed a bottle of liqueur from their suitcase.
After, as Benton washed the dishes clean in the sink, the Brigadier put a record on the old phonograph. Strains of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra soon began drifting their way through the cottage. The Brigadier stepped up behind Benton at the sink, slipping his arms around the other man’s middle, pressed against his back. “Those can wait until morning,” he softly said. He moved his mouth, to kiss at the nape of Benton’s neck.
“Sir,” Benton began, faltering. The dish in his hand threatened to clatter away, but he held his resolve. “These beans’ll be like concrete come morning, and I’m the one who’ll have to scrub them.”
“Let them soak overnight,” the Brigadier muttered in Benton’s ear, tightening his grip around the younger man. “I didn’t bring you out here to play house, Benton.”
“John, sir,” he said quietly, trying still to resist.
“Benton,” the Brigadier repeated. “Put those down,” he said. “Stop trying to complicate things.”
Benton did as he was told. He twisted around and the Brigadier loosened his grip. His face was serious. “Please, sir. It’d mean a lot to me if you did.”
The Brigadier cocked an eyebrow up at the request, studying Benton with amusement dancing in his eyes. “Reduced to begging now, are we?”
“I’m not above it, sir.”
“And I’m not above hearing it.”
A dangerous little smirk slid into place on Benton’s face. “Then I promise to make you beg, sir,” he said, pulling away.
The Brigadier watched Benton as he slipped back into the den and sprawled out on the couch. He kept time to the soft music playing around him by drumming his fingers on his knee.
Running the words Benton had said over in his head, the Brigadier shrugged them off as nonsensical and unimportant. Benton was where he wanted him and that was all that mattered now.
It wasn’t as if he and Benton had never been together before, because they had, many times. But those encounters had taken place awkwardly behind locked office doors, in beds that belonged to other people, and once in a rank motel across the river. This was the first time they had ever been truly alone, with no fear of discovery, no telephone to disturb them, no squeaking mattress and filthy room to distract. Benton was, at last, his.
As such, it was only a matter of time before he had the Sergeant divested of his clothing. It was a very rare occasion they both had enough time off together to share it, and the Brigadier was not about to waste it.
Benton was lithe and strong and loyal and eager; everything the Brigadier liked in his soldiers and his lovers. They started with kissing, but it wasn’t long before the Brigadier had Benton on his back against the couch and was pulling the Sergeant’s legs up. They’d had sex before, but never like this, never face-to-face, with the chance to be slow and deliberate about it. The Brigadier was more than anxious.
Sensing his need, Benton reached out to touch the Brigadier’s length, massaging him encouragingly. The Brigadier himself took a moment’s pause to reach over and fumble with the suitcase he’d brought with them. He had meant to lay everything out for this moment, but had gotten carried away with the excitement. It didn’t take long to find the small tube he was looking for, and when he finally got it unscrewed and the slick liquid on his hand, Benton was staring adoringly up at him.
“Are you ready, Benton?” he asked, leaning forward, effectively folding the man beneath him in half. He adjusted Benton’s legs, so they hooked over his shoulders.
“No, sir,” the other replied, his tone breathless.
The Brigadier had already moved to touch Benton with his freshly slicked hand, and it took several seconds for the words to penetrate the passion-induced fog he found himself in. “What? Why not? What is it, man?”
Benton seemed to be struggling with his words. His hand rested on his own aroused member, but he was no longer stroking it. He took a deep, calming breath and looked up at the Brigadier. “My name is John,” he said.
The Brigadier did not understand. “Yes, I’m aware of that. I was asking if you were ready for this?” He slapped his hardness against Benton’s thigh.
“I know, sir,” Benton replied. “And I’m telling you that to get what you want, I’ve got to get what I want.”
The Brigadier let out a frustrated groan. “You’re having me on.”
“I’m not, sir.”
“Look at where we are, Sergeant,” said the Brigadier, putting on his authoritative voice. “You cannot play games when you’re in this kind of position. There is a job to be done, and you’ve got to uphold your end of it!” He was being gruffer than perhaps was required, but he knew Benton would cow to his demanding tone. He always did.
“My name is John,” Benton repeated, though his voice sounded less certain.
“Sergeant Benton! You will obey my orders!”
One of Benton’s hands came up and cupped the Brigadier’s cheek affectionately. “I’m not a Sergeant right now, sir,” he said. His eyes half closed. “I want this, right now, more than anything,” he said. “But it has to be right. Everything else is so perfect. Why can’t you just give me this?”
The Brigadier found it hard to think with his body throbbing the way it was, and Benton being so close. “I’m only try to protect you,” he managed to say. “It’s for your own good.”
“Two years it’s been, sir,” the younger man said, forlornly. “Two years of longing glances, stolen kisses and frantic fucking in secret.” His tone became biting. “Well, we’re here now, alone. After two years of all that longing and wanting and sneaking and hiding, you can call me John.”
“I can’t believe you’re trying to argue this with me,” the Brigadier countered. “Especially here and now, with both of us all—” He gestured to their arousals.
“I can’t believe you’re resisting it. It’s just a name.”
“So is Benton,” the Brigadier growled. “Why are you being so difficult?”
“Why are you?” Benton began to squirm, starting to pull his legs off the Brigadier’s shoulders. “Is it that important to you? That you’d ruin this? Because it is to me.”
“Benton,” the Brigadier countered, releasing himself to grip Benton’s leg, to keep him from getting away. “Please. You have to try to understand where I’m coming from.”
“Oh, I understand all right,” Benton hotly countered. “Oh, use Sergeant Benton. He does as he’s told and never asks questions, right? He lets you use him and doesn’t care about what he gets in return. Well, I’ve had it, sir. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and no one else I’d rather be with right now, but I’ll walk away from all of it. I mean it. You owe this to me.”
“Benton, please,” the Brigadier said. “You’re making too much of this.”
Benton half sat up, slipped his legs off the Brigadier’s shoulders, and reached out, gripping the other man’s slicked hardness. He slid his hand up and down the length once, keeping his eyes focused on the Brigadier’s face. “Say my name, sir,” he commanded.
Against him, the Brigadier shivered. It was faint, almost imperceptible, but there nevertheless. “You’re being childish,” he managed to say, but it came out in a whisper.
“Just once,” Benton pressed, his tone soft but insistent. He pulled the Brigadier closer, nestling his legs around the older man’s thighs. “Just say it.”
The Brigadier opened his mouth, but words refused to come out. He bent over Benton, pushing him back. He put one hand down on the couch near the younger man’s head, bracing himself. His hips began to work against the hand on him, but as soon as he found a decent pace, the hand pulled away. “Enough,” the Brigadier whispered, his voice sounding strained. “Stop teasing.”
“If I stop, I stop,” Benton countered. “I’ll give you one last chance,” he said. “It’s been two years, sir. I’m not asking for commitment or marriage or . . . or even those three words girls are so fond of. Just the one, or it’s over. It’s only four letters.”
Bending so his face was nearly pressed into the couch beside Benton, the Brigadier let out his breath. Their chests were touching as he leaned his weight into the younger man, and it was as though all the fight had gone out of him. Weakly, he said, “It’s all the same thing.”
“I know,” Benton whispered, raising his hand to stroke through the Brigadier’s short-cropped hair. “And it’s okay.”
“Benton,” he breathed.
The Brigadier’s entire body shivered against Benton’s. He put his mouth to Benton’s ear and for the longest time, all either of them heard was the rough sound of their mutual panting. “You’re insufferable,” he finally murmured.
“I learned from the best, sir,” Benton replied.
“I’m a married man,” the Brigadier whispered.
“I know,” Benton replied. “And you’re my commanding officer, and my friend, and my lover.” He shifted his weight, moving the Brigadier on top of him. His legs were starting to ache from the doubled-up position he was in, but he was loath to move away. With only minor adjustment, he could have the Brigadier. He could replace all the discomfort with pleasure. He rolled his hips once, pressing his body against the Brigadier’s, and let out a low groan. “Now say it.”
“I . . .”
“Please, Benton, I’m . . . I’m not—”
“John,” the Brigadier finally choked out. His body shuddered as he said it, his face pressed against the curve of Benton’s shoulder. The younger man’s arms tightened, wrapped around him. “John, John, John,” he crooned, in mantra.
Benton felt like he was singing. He shifted again and the Brigadier came home, rocking easily into him like there hadn’t been a pause or an argument at all. His strokes were instantly firm and strong, full of a new conviction. Benton clung to the broad back over him as the Brigadier worked in him, sending wave after wave of pleasure and contentment washing over him.
And all the while the Brigadier repeated his name, over and over and over.