Title: Certain Winds
Author: Alicia Graybill (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pairings: Jack/Will; Elizabeth/Norrington
Part: 1 of 2
Summary: An AU taking place during World War II. Jacques, a gypsy who has escaped from a concentration camp, stumbles across an American GI named Will. Sparks ensue between the two of them when they join forces with a resistance cell led by a British colonel and go on a mission to take prisoner the man in charge of the concentration camp Jacques escaped from.
Warnings: Violence, Holocaust mentions, steamy man-loving.
Author's note: For the Jack/Will Fic-a-thon 2, to wit: For: cyerus te'harah Requests: An AU fic that takes place anywhere from the 1800s to the present. Has to have a plot, preferably with hurt/comfort or angst. Restrictions: No wimpy or wet bitch Will. And please, no mindless fluff or sap. For convenience, I have used asterisks (*) before and after phrases that are supposedly spoken in foreign languages. Unbetaed and I'm certainly no expert on WWII so if you see anything that needs correcting, please let me know. There was a concentration camp called Drancy near Paris during WWII but the similarities between the real camp and my fictional one are simply coincidental.
Feedback: Very highly sought after.
(Early April, 1943 near Limoges, France) Will crouched against the building, rifle pulled tight to his body, and waited for the signal. Captain Ross jerked his head toward the open door and Will dove through, coming up against another wall and doing a quick survey to see if there was anyone about. He whistled softly and stood, the others of his decimated platoon entering the former church in half-crouches. When they'd gone through the ruins almost entirely, they felt enough at ease to settle in for the night.
"Lieutenant," Ross said softly and Will went to join him.
"Sir?" Will had never been an imposing figure but to stand next to Captain Ross made him feel almost dainty. At over 200 pounds -- all muscle -- and standing 6' 5", the Captain often joked about how his uniform should have a target drawn on it. Will, near 6' and weighing about 165 pounds, often found himself admiring Ross in a way that he was sure the Captain would not appreciate.
"Something doesn't feel right," Ross answered; he didn't want the men to overhear and get spooked. "This was way too easy. I'm putting you on watch first. I don't trust these damn Frogs any more than I trust the Goddamn Nazis so let me know if you spot anything."
"Yes, sir," Will said. He checked his rifle to make sure it was loaded, ran a hand along his ammo belt to make sure it was full then set out to take up a point along a ridge overlooking the plain that the old church occupied. If Captain Ross was worried, Lieutenant Will Stiles was doubly so.
He found a place behind an old stone wall and made himself comfortable--but not too comfortable. It would be at least four hours before Ross would send somebody to relieve him and that would probably be Corporal Hoskins, Sergeant Riggs having stepped on a landmine and died in the last village they passed through.
The night got discernibly colder as he sat there. He tracked the progress of the horned moon as it made its way across the sky. It was getting near the end of his watch when he heard the sound of someone approaching his position. Narrowing his eyes a bit, he spotted a figure limping up the ridge toward him. Bundled up, he couldn't tell if the figure was male or female. All he did know was that the figure was about to discover him.
Without warning, he stood, rifle aimed dead-center at the figure's head. In a harsh whisper, he said, "Halt! Who goes there?"
He heard the figure draw in air, startled, and stumble back. Somehow, the figure lost its footing and tumbled down the ridge. When the figure tried to rise, it couldn't. Will, shaking his head at his own stupidity for what he was about to do, slid down the ridge toward the person. With a furtive look around to see that they were alone, Will hissed, "Get up."
The figure, now on its face, buried its head against its arms and tensed. He could hear the figure muttering something softly, like a prayer, and he sighed heavily. He nudged the figure's ribs with the toe of his boot but there was no response. Another look around and Will extended a hand to the person to help him or her rise.
"Stiles, William, Lieutenant. United States Army. I won't hurt you," He muttered. "Come on, give me your hand."
Reluctantly, the figure rolled to one side and he had the impression of glittering black eyes before the hand slid into his own. For a second, he almost shook himself free at the spark of something that passed between them. Instead, the figure raised its head to look up at him. It was a young man about his own age with dark eyes and a sallow complexion. He managed to stand with Will's help. Will slid an arm about his waist and fought down a sudden feeling of nausea at the man's rail-thin body. They had taken a few halting steps back toward the top of the ridge when he heard the sound of tanks.
"Shit!" He snarled and threw the young man to the ground, thinking to protect him. He staggered up the ridge and jumped the ruined wall to see the line of Nazi tanks bearing down upon the old church.
"Captain Ross!" He screamed, running full-tilt down the embankment. He fired three shots into the air. "Nazis, Captain, they're--."
He was never sure if any of the men in the ruin got out or not. To an extent, he wasn't even sure that he was going to live to see the next dawn. He did know that the mortar round that destroyed the ruined church blew him back several feet and, despite his helmet, a chunk of stone smashed him across the head to put his lights out. Maybe the Nazis will put a bullet in me to make it quick, Will prayed as he lost consciousness.
Jacques glanced down at the tattoo on his arm. The series of numbers blurred and he realized his eyes were filling with tears again. His eyes were drawn to the front of his prison uniform where the pink triangle and the black one were sewn.
"Not just a dirty gypsy," He recalled the Nazi commandant sneering. "But a faggot as well. If our good doctor didn't need a few more of you pigs for his experiments, I'd just put a bullet in your head right now."
"Go ahead," Jacques had replied, hoping to push the commandant into doing just that. His leg was getting worse and the thought of being tortured before dying was not pleasant. "Or are you too cowardly to kill a man who is looking you in the face?"
The tall, blue-eyed Nazi had grown red-faced with rage. Jacques referred to the Nazi practice of lining groups of prisoners slated for execution up at the edge of a mass grave and shooting them in the back so they would fall forward into the trench. He pulled his handgun out and shoved it at Jacques. Very briefly, Jacques focused on the gun and the way it shook then he looked back into the blue eyes and smiled. Colonel Hector Bleicher saw the expression and backhanded him with the gun before turning to the men behind him. "Make sure he is the first to see the good doctor in the morning, hmmm?"
The men nodded obediently and grabbed for Jacques's arms. Jacques pretended unconsciousness and let the two drag him away. They dropped him unceremoniously at the door to the infirmary then knocked on it and waited until the door was opened by a harried-looking assistant. The assistant ordered them to bring the patient in but the soldiers refused.
"He's already stunk up our uniforms," One complained bitterly. "Besides, I hear their kind can survive in below zero weather. It won't even get down to freezing tonight. Leave him there."
For a moment, the assistant was frustrated then, with a light kick to Jacques's shoulder, he slammed the door, leaving Jacques on the stoop. For Jacques, the hard part had been staying motionless despite the cold and not falling asleep. Finally, just after the moon had set, he crawled around to the truck parked at the back of the infirmary. The interesting parts of the bodies of the dead--some Zigeuner, some Juden, all enemies of der Fuhrer--were stored in this truck to be transported to Berlin for further study. Biting back nausea at the smell of formaldehyde and the sight of various body parts, Jacques squeezed himself into a small space between a crate and the truck's wheel-well. Lucky for me, He remarked to himself with grim humor, if I'd been much fatter, I couldn't have fit in here. The next morning, the truck rolled out of the camp with no fanfare. Jacques bided his time, waiting until he recognized the part of France they were in. When the truck stopped to let the drivers take a piss-break, Jacques managed to slip out and disappear into the forest surrounding them. He hid in the bushes until the truck went on its way then he stood and headed for the camp his family had made in this area for generations. He prayed as hard as he could that someone would be there to meet him.
But no one had been. In fact, the only thing at the camp site was a burned out wreck of a caravan. Examining it closely, he recognized it as one belonging to a cousin of his. He said a silent prayer for the safety of his family then went to the hollow tree where his family had stored emergency items for just such an event. He pulled out the wool cloak and the five gold-pieces first. The cloak was a bit damp but it let him get warm for the first time in nearly two months. He slid the five gold-pieces into a pocket in the lining of the cloak. At the very bottom of the tree sat the simple cherry-handled knife that his family had used for butchering for years. Picking it up, he could see the way his hand trembled. He had to live so his family would not die out entirely but he recognized his chances were very poor.
That was a week ago and many miles to the north. He heard the tanks rumbling across the ground and huddled harder against the base of the ruined wall. The young soldier had helped him up, had intended him no harm, and was probably dead or dying because he'd paused to help someone. Jacques shook his head and tried to calm his breathing and heartbeat. The tanks were gone, it seemed. He was about to raise up when he felt cold steel press against his cheek. A gruff voice spoke to him in French.
"What are you doing here? Who sent you?"
Jacques finally managed to squint up at the speaker and realized it was a woman. She took a look at him and gasped, her eyes falling on his chest. In terror, he grabbed the cloak and pulled it across his front but realized the damage was already done. She knew he'd escaped from the concentration camp. He lowered his head and spoke in his best French.
"Please, just kill me quick. Don't make me go back there," His voice was rough and he didn't know if she understood him or not. He waited for the sound of the gun to be cocked but it never came.
Instead, the young woman knelt beside him. "Can you walk? We can get you to a safe house for a few days."
He looked up into her gentle amber eyes with doubt then nodded slowly and deliberately. She slid his arm around her shoulders and helped him stand. He paused and looked around. "Where did the young soldier go? He- He was going to help me."
The woman gave him a reassuring smile. "James and the men are tending to him. Please, we have very little time."
He nodded and let her help him down the slope. A horse-drawn cart waited a hundred feet or so away. They bundled him and the young soldier in the cart together and covered them with blankets and straw. Jacques noticed that the soldier had received a blow to the head and was unconscious. He shivered and slid an arm around the young man, resting his head on the broad shoulder. He fell asleep hoping this wasn't all just a dream.
Elisabeth watched as Marcel Gilbert stitched the laceration in the American soldier's head up. "How is he?"
Her red-haired compatriot shrugged. "He should be fine by the time we can return him to his people. I'm not so sure about the gypsy. His leg is very infected and I don't know if we should waste the sulfa on him."
Elisabeth's eyes widened with indignation. "How can you say that? He's--."
Colonel James Northrup stepped into the room at that moment. "It's all right, Elisabeth. He will be treated properly. I've been in contact with my superiors and they assure me more medical supplies are on the way. In any case, if we failed to treat his injury, we'd be no better than the animals who had him captive. I wonder which camp it was."
"Drancy," Came the reply from the doorway and all three turned to see the gypsy standing in the doorway. He favored his leg but he seemed composed and in control. "I thank you for your help but I must be going. As long as you care for the American, I can be on my way."
Northrup narrowed his eyes a bit as he gazed at the younger man. He was trembling, despite his insouciance. He was also dangerously thin. As he stood there, a film of sweat appeared on his upper lip and Northrup realized he was about to pass out.
"I'm sorry," James said gently. "But we cannot let you leave, not at this time. I have the safety of my people to consider. Your departure would arouse too many suspicions."
Briefly, James thought the gypsy would object. He was, after all, not bound by any law or code to remain. Instead, though, his eyes shifted to the American as he lay unconscious on the bunk. At the sight, Northrup noticed that he wore two triangles on his shirt--one black for his Romani origins and the other pink. Homosexuals were accorded the pink triangle. It's amazing that he wasn't shot outright by the Nazis, James sighed heavily and stepped forward.
"If you would like to help out, you could stay here with the Lieutenant and care for him. That would free up Marcel to return to his other duties," He suggested it quietly as he prepared to catch the young man should he collapse. "Your name?"
"Jacques," He answered. After a moment, he raised wise eyes to James's to let him know that he understood what the Colonel was doing. "I- I appreciate the opportunity to be useful, sir. Thank you."
James nodded, once, and let him pass. Marcel rose and gave Jacques his seat. "I just finished sewing him up. We have a bit of morphine if the pain is too great when he wakes. Otherwise, he will need a drink and a bit to eat. We'll send some food in for you both."
The young man tilted his head slightly as he flashed a grateful smile. The shadows on his face previously had kept James from seeing the bad bruise on his cheek. Jacques didn't seem bothered by it, though. Just one more note of hurt in a symphony of damage, James shook his head slightly and turned to Elisabeth. "I think they will be safe enough for now. We have things to discuss."
Elisabeth and Marcel nodded, Marcel giving James a look that asked if he knew what he was doing. Elisabeth, who had been giving the young American somewhat longing looks, had now transferred her curiosity to the gypsy. James decided to say nothing to her as yet. She had seen a lot of death and destruction in her short life. Perhaps the sight of love, even a love considered wicked, was something she should be allowed to look upon. He took her by the arm gently and led her from the room.
Will woke when the gentle hand placed a cool compress on his forehead. His head ached fiercely and it was difficult to open his eyes. When he heard the voice singing very softly, though, he had to know who it was. The words didn't sound German but he knew for sure they weren't French. He blinked up at his nursemaid as he used a hand to push the compress back off his brow. The sight that greeted him was a young man, possibly the one from before the mortar hit, gazing at him with an enigmatic smile on his lips.
"Where am I?" He asked as he tried to sit up.
"You should be still," The young man's voice was deep and gentle. He spoke English with an accent that Will couldn't place. "We are safe for the moment."
Will shrugged off his restraining hand and managed to swing his feet off the bed. The room began to spin so he rested his face in his hands. Finally, with an effort, he raised his head and asked, "Who are you?"
"Jacques," Came the reply. "At least, that is what most people call me when they aren't hurling abuse. I thank you for not shooting me earlier."
Will waved a hand casually and started looking around. "Where's my gear?"
Jacques shrugged. "Who knows? You seem to ask many questions."
"I seem to," Will agreed grimly.
He looked up at Jacques and finally took in the details. Black hair that fell nearly to his shoulders and black eyes that seemed to notice everything. He was wearing a gray tunic with a pink triangular patch and a black triangular patch sewn to the front. So he'd been in a Nazi prison camp. That put Will a bit more at ease. Things went more smoothly when there was a common foe. He spotted an unusual mark on Jacques's forearm. Without thinking, he took hold of the limb to examine the mark. Jacques reacted by trying to pull away but he was too weak to accomplish his goal. Will scowled when he realized the mark was a series of numbers tattooed into the flesh.
"What does this mean?" Will asked, releasing Jacques finally. He noticed that his fingers tingled from touching the other young man.
"That is the number they gave me when I first went to the camp," He glanced up to see Will's hazel eyes were taking in the gray uniform and especially the two badges on his chest. He pointed to the black one first then the pink one. "So they would not get us mixed up with les juifsthe Jewsthey put this one on the Romgypsies to youand this one is here because I- Well, I was with a raklo when I was caught, a boy not of the Rom."
"You were with him? What does that mean?" Will grunted, his mind already racing to a conclusion that he knew he shouldn't hope for. "More questions, I know."
Jacques grinned. "Are all Americans so curious?"
Will shrugged and returned the smile. "No, you just got the misfortune to be stuck with me."
At that, Jacques drew air in sharply and made a sign in the air. He looked away from Will. When Jacques looked back up at Will, the American was gazing at him with gentle curiosity. Jacques smiled sheepishly. "We Romani do not take mentions of luck, for good or ill, lightly. Would you like something to eat?"
Will nodded. "It's been a while since I had something to eat."
Jacques stood to go ask about the food when he grew suddenly light-headed. He reached out to brace himself on Will's sturdy shoulder and found himself caught in the American's embrace. Will lowered him gently to sit beside him on the bed. For a moment that felt far too short, their eyes locked. Cautiously, Will stroked his fingertips across Jacques's cheek where the bruise appeared. At the touch, Jacques pulled him a bit closer and pressed his mouth to the American's.
For Will, the kiss made his whole body burn. It just confirmed for him that he was never going to be the son Sam and Kate Stiles wanted. They wanted a son who would marry a lovely girl and give them a houseful of grandchildren. Instead, they got a son who spent most of his high school days mooning over the captain of the football team while dating the girl he considered his best friend in the world. He shifted position a bit and returned Jacques's kiss as one of his hands sought out the black hair, the other rubbing across the small of the gypsy's back. After a moment, Jacques pushed him away.
"Please, I- They might not understand," The black eyes he gazed into were full of fear and he shot a suspicious glance at the door. "I- I find you quite handsome but we- we must be careful."
Will felt his face flush. How could he have forgotten their situation? Still, he felt something deeper for Jacques than he could have imagined, especially given they barely knew each other. When Jacques tried to rise, he bumped his leg against the chair. Will caught him again as he came close to passing out and placed him on the bed. A glance down at Jacques's left leg showed a blood-soaked bandage about the lower half. His face darkened and he stood.
"Lie still. I'll go get some help," He started to leave the room but Jacques snagged his hand. "What?"
"Don't leave me," Jacques whispered.
Will swallowed hard and turned back. He was about to sit down beside Jacques when the door opened.
"I brought you some food," Elisabeth announced as she stepped into the room.
She paused, staring, when she saw Jacques holding Will's hand. Both young men looked from her to each other and Will briefly saw some cautionary message in Jacques's eyes. He glanced up at Elisabeth then and she smiled reassuringly.
"I- Your secret is safe with me," She said softly. "Though I must say it isn't much of a secret. Would you prefer to share this room? Otherwise, one of you can sleep on the floor in the kitchen."
Will glanced over at Jacques, who wouldn't meet his eyes but who wouldn't release his hand. He smiled slightly and stepped closer to Jacques. "We'll share this one. Thank you."
She saw Jacques's leg at that moment and sucked in air sharply. "Mon Dieu! I will be right back to treat that."
She strode out of the room and Will took a seat beside Jacques. At that, the black eyes met his and a shy grin spread across his face. "Alone at last! I knew you would not be able to resist my charms."
Will returned the grin. "I'm surprised anyone can. How long has it been since those bastards caught you?"
Jacques shrugged. "It's difficult to say. Six months? Or more? I am blessed to still be here."
"I suppose so," Will replied though he cast a glance down Jacques's too-thin form as it reclined on the cot. He passed a bowl of soup from the tray to Jacques then took one for himself. They ate in silence. When they finished, Will set both bowls back on the tray. Finally he could stand it no longer. "These people seem nice."
"They do," Jacques said then lifted Will's hand to his lips. At that, Will could restrain himself no longer. He leaned down and kissed the gypsy. Again, the fire shot through his soul. How could something that felt so wonderful be so bad? Jacques moaned into Will's mouth. Will felt the gypsy's long fingers stroking across his face and twining into his hair. Will realized at that moment that he wanted nothing more from life than to stay with this man forever. The reality, though, was that this man was a total stranger and their future was uncertain at best.
Will sat up abruptly when the door opened. Northrup and Elisabeth returned, her hand resting in his. He smiled at the sight and glanced back at Jacques to see his eyes were closed, pain causing tension lines to mar the gypsy's beautiful face. He moved aside to let Elisabeth have access to Jacques's injury. When he moved, Jacques's eyes opened and he released his hand. Northrup touched Will's shoulder at that moment and signaled for him to accompany the Colonel.
Once out in the other room, Northrup turned to him. "From what I understand, it will be several days if not weeks before we are able to return you to the Americans. You are more than welcome to stay with us during that time but I assume you are a man of action. We would welcome your assistance during the next few weeks, if you would be willing."
Will considered the request for just a few seconds. "Whatever you need. I- What about Jacques?"
Northrup suppressed a grimace but not a sigh. "We have no way to detain him; the choice is his. He can stay with us for a time but the reality of the situation is that we are a fighting unit. He will have to choose to join us or to leave. If he leaves, we will have to take precautions to keep from being discovered."
Will nodded. "I understand. Thank you, sir. Um, I was wondering about my belongings?"
Northrup nodded. "I'll have Marcel bring what we found with you in a few minutes. For now, we're safe enough."
"Thanks," Will grinned.
At that, Northrup let him return to Jacques's side then. He walked in to find Elisabeth and Jacques conversing quietly as she re-bandaged his leg. Jacques noticed him come through the door and fell abruptly silent, his hand touching the girl's elbow lightly. She glanced up, her eyes met Will's and she suppressed an open grin, her cheeks coloring slightly. For a moment, Will was taken aback. Had they been talking about him? What could they have said? Feeling awkward, Will approached.
"So, how is he?" He asked.
"He will live," Elisabeth replied with a smile. "He may even walk again. But for tonight, I suggest strict bed-rest. For the both of you. I can guarantee your privacy but only for tonight, n'cest pas?"
Will glanced down at Jacques to see the black eyes set on him with an impassioned gleam. The gleam made Will's blood run hot in his veins. He raised his eyes to see Elisabeth had an impish grin on her face as she gathered her things and prepared to leave. "I see that my offer has been accepted. Good night, gentlemen."
Jacques watched Elisabeth leave then turned his eyes toward Will again. The American was painfully beautiful with his golden eyes and curly brown hair, hints of gold there as well. He offered Will his hand and smiled when Will took it. He sat back down beside Jacques and pulled him up. Jacques kissed Will on the lips at first then moved his mouth to the American's neck, inhaling the scent of him. Will filled his hands with Jacques's hair and spoke softly into his ear.
"I don't want to hurt you but I'm afraid this is all the time we'll have together. I want you, more than I've ever wanted anyone else," His voice grew hoarse. "Can you--?"
Jacques rested his head on Will's shoulder. "I can. I will. I do. Whatever you want me to answer, love. Another day in that place and I would have died. If a higher power sent you to me, it would be ingratitude on my part to refuse you. Please."
Will kissed him again. Jacques tried to unbutton the American's shirt but his hands were shaking so hard he feared he would tear the clothes instead. He moaned into Will's mouth as the American's rough hands slid up under the prison shirt and pushed it off over his head. He shivered and pressed his hands to Will's shoulders to force him back onto the cot. Jacques felt Will's mouth migrate across his neck, the lips and teeth finding that sensitive spot just behind his jawbone that made him quiver.
Finally, he managed to work enough of the buttons open on Will's shirt that he could touch skin. It took a few more seconds then he managed to locate the nipples on his lover's chest, letting his thumbs rub small circles over the sensitive buds. Will groaned and arched his hips up so there was contact between them.
Jacques began to work at Will's pants. On Will's part, his callused hands were tugging at his own trousers. Somehow, in the struggle, they overbalanced and both of them tumbled to the floor. Fortunately, Jacques landed atop Will and they both landed on a thin mattress that someone had slept on the night before. Still, the tumble knocked the air out of Will even as Jacques's leg banged against the floor.
The pain shot up into him and he nearly lost consciousness. He came alert with Will kissing him tenderly, holding him tightly. "Jacques, please, wake up. Please talk to me."
"It's all right," Jacques muttered after a minute, levering himself to a sitting position. "I feel better now. Please, I- I'd like to continue but, perhaps, we should stay in the floor, eh?"
Will grinned gratefully and resumed kissing Jacques. It took just a few more seconds and Jacques felt Will's hand stroke across his penis. He stiffened and let his hands roam down to Will's ass, filling his palms and letting his fingers tickle at the crevice between his cheeks. Will moaned into his mouth and pressed himself against the hands in a movement that was both offer and demand.
Jacques responded to both. Gently, he located Will's cavity and began to press one finger up into him. Will whimpered and arched his back, opening himself to Jacques as much as possible. Jacques slid a second finger into Will, who moaned softly and stiffened inadvertently. Jacques paused and glanced up into the amber eyes.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No," Will muttered, his voice strained. "I- It's just been a while since I've done this. Please continue."
Jacques smiled at him. "If you need me to stop, please say so. I don't want to hurt you, love."
Will seized Jacques's chin in his hand and pulled him up for a hard kiss. When Jacques's removed his fingers from Will's cavity, Will rolled over onto his knees and elbows, offering himself freely.
"Go ahead, take me," Will leered at him with a crooked grin.
The expression inspired Jacques to grin as well. He moved gingerly between Will's well-muscled legs and took the opportunity to run his hands over Will's pale buttocks and thighs. Will pressed back against him. "Please?"
Jacques couldn't suppress a chuckle and leaned down to kiss the small dimples just above Will's hips. Will shivered in delight and sighed gratefully when Jacques began to kiss his way up Will's back, nibbling tenderly at the muscles on either side of his spine. When Jacques was pressed full-length against Will's back, he brushed his cock lightly between Will's buttocks. Will murmured something about "don't be cruel" and Jacques realized he could wait no longer.
"My apologies, love," He whispered and began to fit himself into the puckered hole. To his amazement, Will shoved backwards and he was buried balls-deep in seconds. At the sensation of Will's hot, tight passage throbbing around his dick, Jacques whimpered and crumpled nervelessly against Will. He closed his eyes and kissed the nape of Will's neck.
"*You feel so good,*" Jacques gasped, his hands fumbling down Will's sides so he could find his lover's rod and bring him release. "*I love you.*"
At that, he heard Will snicker. "I don't speak gypsy, sweetheart, but I think the feeling's mutual."
Jacques's eyes fluttered open and he raised up a bit. "I- I am sorry, Will; I'll try to remember next time . . ."
Jacques trailed off as he realized there might never be a next time. I must make this count, then, He decided and rocked his hips back to begin the rhythm that would lead them both to relief. To his pleasant surprise, their rhythms meshed almost perfectly and Will's climax came just before his own. As they slumped together onto the mattress, Jacques nuzzled Will's upturned cheek and ear, appreciating the day's growth of stubble and the scent of perspiration. After a moment, Will rolled over so that Jacques lay atop him, his head cushioned on Will's shoulder. Despite all his efforts to stay awake to appreciate the experience, he fell asleep to the comforting sensation of Will's hand stroking his hair.
Will was dozing when there was a knock at the door. Cautiously, he rose and pulled his fatigue trousers on. A final glance back at Jacques showed him that he was covered by the blanket Will had drawn up over them before he dozed off. He opened the door to see Elisabeth standing there, his possessions in her hands, including his pistol. She smiled up at him as she handed the things to him.
"How are you doing?" She asked softly. He could tell she was including Jacques in that question.
"We're fine," He spoke softly then set his belongings down just inside the door. He drew his pistol from the holster and checked to make sure it was loaded. He looked back at Elisabeth to see she was gazing at him peculiarly. "He's asleep."
"Good," She replied. "I confess I was a little worried about him. When we uncovered you in the wagon, he was holding you most tenderly. I feared you would not feel the same way about him."
Will blinked at her for a moment then smiled gently. "I don't think I ever stood a chance. I'll see you in the morning."
Elisabeth nodded. "I understand. Good night, Will."
Will waved casually then pushed the door shut. He returned to Jacques's side. Taking the pillow and blanket from the bed, he settled in beside Jacques, sliding the pistol under his pillow. As soon as Jacques felt him return to the bed, he moved into Will's arms. Will returned to sleep almost immediately.
Hours later, Will came awake at the sound of an outcry, pulling his sidearm out from under the pillow. The only person in the room with him was Jacques, who was curled into as tiny a ball as possible. A few seconds passed and Jacques cried out again, the sound made Will flinch. He slid the .45 back into its hiding place and drew the gypsy into his arms. Briefly, Jacques resisted, whimpering, but Will rubbed his back then whispered into his ear, "It's all right. I'm here. I won't let them hurt you."
The scowl on Jacques's face eased at that and he opened his body to Will a bit. Will drew him close and brushed his lips across Jacques's forehead. After a few minutes, the black eyes opened, fear in them. He gasped something in gypsy before the consciousness returned to the eyes. At that point, the fear was replaced with an expression of regret.
"I do apologize," He pushed away from Will but the American wouldn't release him.
"It's all right, Jacques. Don't think anything of it. You were having a bad dream; do you want to talk about it?" Will held Jacques's wrist lovingly and sat up to let Jacques take a place on the bed.
Jacques couldn't meet his eyes. He looked so exhausted and hurt that Will joined him on the bed and embraced him. After a moment, he spoke. "You don't have to pretend. I- This has been very nice but I know we must go our separate ways."
Will raised Jacques's chin so he could look into the other young man's eyes. "I love you."
At the simple statement, Jacques pushed against him for a kiss then buried his face against Will's naked shoulder. Will planted a kiss in Jacques's hair and wrapped his arms around the shaking shoulders. The burning ache in his gut made tears start in his own eyes. He would never regret having said those words to Jacques, even if he never saw him again. At that thought, though, the tears began to slide silently down his own face. How could he survive this madness knowing he would never see Jacques again?
The next day, Northrup determined that they had to move to a new location. Despite Elisabeth's protests that Jacques would not be capable of such a thing, James insisted. Knowing that Jacques's injury would slow them, he altered their destination. It was to be Tours where they would join up with another unit to do some reconnaissance but he decided that they should make for Orleans instead. They started off well before dawn, fully intending to travel as far as they could until forced to take cover.
Marcel took point with Elisabeth and James following. Will and Jacques brought up the rear. At one point, they stopped for a meal break. Will, keeping watch, saw something glinting on the road and knelt to retrieve it. It was a small gold earring, a simple hoop. Will found himself imagining what it would look like against Jacques's skin. He tucked it into his pocket, finished up his cheese sandwich, and returned to the others.
"I'm fine, Elisabeth," Jacques was saying when he arrived. Will felt a clutch at his stomach and stepped closer to see that the young Frenchwoman was fussing over his leg, the dressing on it badly bloodied. "Please don't worry. I will be all right."
Will stepped closer. "What's going on?"
Jacques looked up at him but it was James who spoke. "If you cannot keep up, we will have to leave you behind. Our time is limited, as are our resources. Do you understand?"
Will rounded on him. "That's not fair! You were the one who decided we should leave today. You could have given him a day or two to recover."
Northrup's blue-green eyes regarded him coldly. "You are an officer, Lieutenant. You should understand that sometimes your responsibilities require decisions that are unfair, at best. My decision stands."
"James," Elisabeth said, a note of disbelief in her voice. "You cannot be serious! Perhaps we can find a cart of some sort--."
"No, Elisabeth," Jacques spoke. "Please, this arguing is senseless. I will keep up, Colonel. It is no problem."
Will glanced from Jacques to James, taking in the expressions on Elisabeth's and Marcel's faces on the way. "If Jacques begins to fall behind, I'll stay with him until he's recovered enough to continue. If that means we part company, then so be it."
Northrup's mouth drew into a thin line. "How will you get back to the American forces?"
"That's my business," Will said and slid an arm around Jacques's back to half-lift him to his feet. "I think it's time we got going."
Without another word, Will started off in the direction they had been going. Elisabeth glared at James then hurried to catch up. Marcel ground out the cigarette he'd been smoking and stood, slinging his pack over one shoulder then resting his rifle over the other. He shook his head.
"You British have no sense of romance. It would serve you right if the American changed his mind and decided not to help us," Gilbert turned away from Northrup before he said, "Consider how you would feel, mon ami, if Elisabeth was the one injured so."
He then marched briskly off to catch up with the others. James sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. Despite his French companion's assertion about his own lack of romantic feelings, he had noticed the tension in the room when they had interrupted Stiles and the gypsy. Even before that, no one could mistake the affection on Jacques's sleeping face when they revealed him cuddling the American in the bed of the cart. He wasn't blind or stupid, just realistic. Whatever lay between the two, it was doomed at the outset and the sooner everyone faced that fact, the better.
Shaking his head, Colonel Northrup followed after his ragtag band.
Jacques wasn't sure how far they had walked. He did know that Elisabeth had taken the lead shortly after catching up to them and apologizing for the Colonel's heartlessness. Marcel had been almost on her heels and gave them a philosophical shrug of the shoulders before patting Jacques on the arm. When Northrup caught and passed them, he kept his eyes turned resolutely forward and pretended as if he didn't see either of them. The sun was lowering into the western horizon when Jacques leaned his head on Will's shoulder. Will, alarmed, glanced down at him.
Jacques smiled slightly, his face pale. "I'm sorry. I think I need to rest for a moment."
"It's all right," Will said and guided Jacques to a fallen log just in the cover of the trees. "How's your leg?"
Jacques grinned. "It could be worse. At least I have a strong American to lean on when it hurts too much."
Will's face flushed and he smiled sweetly, dropping his gaze to the ground. "Any time. I found something on the road a ways back. I don't have a use for it but- but you might. Here."
He dropped the small gold hoop into Jacques's hand. For a moment, Jacques regarded the earring with a mixture of appreciation and aversion. While he understood it was well-intentioned, he had to wonder what had happened to the person this earring belonged to. After another few seconds, he glanced up at Will.
"Thank you," He slid a hand around the back of Will's neck and pulled him close for a kiss. "I wish we had time to- Well, I'd like to demonstrate my appreciation more fully, n'cest pas?"
Will sighed. "Do you feel up to pushing on? If we get to the rendezvous site in time, perhaps we could arrange for some privacy?"
"A worthy goal, to be sure," Jacques said.
Will stood and helped him up then slid his arm around Jacques's waist. They began walking again. They followed the road though only rarely actually walked on it. As dusk began to settle in, Jacques felt Will tense up and knew he had begun to worry that they had gotten lost. He felt the tension dissipate when Marcel appeared at a bend in the road, leaning against a tree and smoking a cigarette. With a subtle movement of his head, he led them to a badly damaged barn on the edge of a burnt field.
As they entered the main portion of the barn, Jacques noted there were three stalls along one wall of the barn that were under some protection from the weather. Only one had a door and Jacques felt a stir of disappointment in his stomach. There would be no opportunity for privacy tonight. To his surprise, when Northrup saw them enter, the Colonel stood and offered Jacques his seat on a bale of hay. Will helped him get seated then glanced up at the British officer.
"So do you intend for us to do this again tomorrow?"
Northrup sighed and his eyes shifted from Will to Elisabeth then back. "That was my original intention. It has been brought to my attention, however, that we should probably be traveling under cover of darkness. Since we are all exhausted, we shall have a decent meal and a good night's sleep. We'll leave here tomorrow at dusk."
Jacques couldn't suppress the smile as he spoke. "Thank you, Colonel. It is a wise decision on your part, no?"
For a moment, the blue-green eyes of the British officer met his and there was a subtle something that passed behind them. Northrup offered his hand. "Please, call me James. We'll grow to be very familiar before this is all over."
Jacques shook the hand, finding it warm but dry and steady as a rock. The quiet confidence made him think of Will and he understood that in another time or place, there may have been a possibility for things to develop between himself and the Colonel. But not here, not now, not with Will so close. He drew his hand away after a moment. He looked up at Will to see that the American was glaring at Northrup. What he was upset about, Jacques was uncertain. He just hoped that Will wasn't angry with him.
continued in part 2
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