A/N:Lemon scene ahead, somewhere in the middle
Talin slid the needle into his left arm as the doctor had shown him. Injecting the dose fast, he removed the needle with a small grimace. He hated needles. His headache was now constant. The meds dulled the pain, but this was the second time he'd needed a dose in the last four hours. His gaze fell on the metal case the doctor left him. He wondered if he had enough to last through the day. He didn't want to worry Dimitri.
Talin discarded the used needle into a black plastic container. Sealing it, he dumped into the black bag. Closing the metal case, he slid it into the black bag too and zipped it up.
Sliding the sleeve of his sweater down, Talin closed the trunk.
The sun was coming up, turning the world a gorgeous orange.
Talin leaned on his car waiting for the gas to fill.
Dimitri was in the convenience store buying coffee. They'd driven out of Colston around four this morning. Dimitri was driving them to a lakeshore cabin in Sutherland, a neighboring city. Talin closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath, and imagined this was a normal day.
No big bad monsters coming after Dimitri and him, or threatening Dimitri's family, he could see them going out for a drive, a normal day.
The tank filled, pulling Talin out of his thoughts. He took the nozzle out of the gas tank, capped it and returned the gas pump nozzle to its place.
Dimitri emerged from the convenience store carrying a tray with two coffee cups.
Dimitri was sexy in a black v-neck t-shirt and worn-in blue jeans. His dark hair a wild tumble on his head, dark glasses covered his eyes.
My personal bad boy, Talin thought.
Dimitri reached him and Talin took his left arm and leaned up for a kiss.
"Mmm…" Dimitri prolonged the kiss, leaning them against the car. "What was that for?"
"Being you," Talin said, taking the coffee tray from him.
"We'll have to stop at a restaurant for breakfast," Dimitri said, opening the passenger door. "Or…"
"Or?" Talin asked, pausing before he could get in the car.
"We get groceries and drive straight to the cabin. I'll make you breakfast." Dimitri winked.
"Shopping it is," Talin said.
Talin got in the car, closing his door, he watched Dimitri hurry around to the driver's side.
Dimitri started the car, and Talin handed him a cup of coffee once he joined traffic. The radio tuned to a soft rock station, the music turned low. Traffic was fast. Talin could imagine a billion moments like these with Dimitri.
Dimitri put his coffee cup in the holder between them and took his hand, twining their fingers. Talin lifted their joined hands and kissed the back of Dimitri's hand. He wanted more, lots more of these moments.
"Did you have to make me chop the onions?" Talin complained an hour later.
Dimitri mixed eggs in a bowl, his attention on a heating pan on the cooker.
"I'm chopping everything else."
"This is payback for last night, isn't it?" Talin asked, "For not answering your calls."
"You do that to me again and I'll squat onion juice into your gorgeous eyes."
Dimitri poured the egg mixture he'd made into the pan, making it sizzle and bubble.
"You have a mean streak," Talin said, finishing with the onions. His eyes stung and his eyelashes were damp.
Moving to the sink, he turned on the water and washed his hands, scrubbing away the onion smell with dish soap.
Dimitri scrambled the eggs, taking a container of black pepper; he sprinkled the dark spice on the eggs.
"Where did you learn to cook?" Talin asked, wiping his hands on a kitchen towel.
"From my mother," Dimitri said with a small smile. "She'd be in the kitchen on Sundays, and have me stand on this stool so I could reach the countertop. She chopped the onions. I'd get to chop tomatoes or whatever soft vegetable she wanted."
"That's cute," Talin said charmed at the idea of toddler Dimitri. "You don't talk about her."
"She passed away early." Dimitri glanced at Talin then. "She died of in a car accident."
Talin understood it wouldn't have been easy for Dimitri to lose his mother. He knew loss, knew the toll it took on the heart.
"What happened?" Talin asked.
Dimitri turned off the heat and stared at the eggs.
"Car accident, my father was driving."
Talin moved behind Dimitri and slipped his arms around Dimitri's waist, hugging him. He pressed his face into Dimitri's back when Dimitri leaned against him.
"I didn't talk to Dad for two months. I was angry with him." Dimitri let out a sigh, and Talin felt him cover his hands with his. "I didn't understand he was grieving too."
"It's easier now. I hope wherever they are, that they're together."
Dimitri squeezed his hands.
Talin stepped back and Dimitri turned to kiss his jaw.
"Don't look so depressed, Talin. We came here to relax."
"We are relaxed." Talin grinned. "Whose cabin is this?"
"An Army buddy," Dimitri said, taking the chopping board with the onions. "He's in Florida. He lets me use the cabin whenever I want."
"That's nice of him." Talin looked around the sunny kitchen. "I always wanted to live by a water body: a lake, a sea or an ocean."
"Do you still want to?" Dimitri asked.
"Are you going to let me move in to your house at the marina?"
"It's not my house, that's Lukas's house. I signed over my share."
Talin frowned. "Don't you like living there?"
"I grew up there, but the marina life is not mine. Lukas gets thrills from it. I was to leave after our father's funeral, but then Lukas told me about Vlad—
"So you stayed," Talin said.
"Yes," Dimitri nodded. "I couldn't leave them to face Vlad alone."
Dimitri glanced at him.
"If you want, we can find a house by the lake."
"Or the ocean," Talin said, thinking after the past few weeks, maybe months; he could put Colston in his past. Start fresh somewhere new.
"Leave Colston?" Dimitri asked.
"Would you hate that?"
"Not if you come along," Dimitri said, though Talin didn't miss the frown that graced Dimitri's forehead.
Dimitri was thinking about Lukas and Katerina.
"We don't have to think about it right now," Talin said then. "Tell me more stories about your childhood: you, Lukas and your mom."
Talin smiled. They spent the morning in the kitchen eating scrambled eggs, fresh fruit salad and drinking coffee. Talin loved listening to Dimitri talk about his childhood. His love for Lukas and Katerina shone in every word. The marina was ingrained in Dimitri's life, whether he wanted to leave it or not.
They cleaned up the dishes, and Dimitri gave him a tour of the cabin. It had two bedrooms, a living area and kitchen.
Talin fell in love with the master bedroom. A balcony door opened out on to a gorgeous deck connected to a walkway leading to the lake. He could imagine the sunrise in the morning, light falling on the large bed.
The trees around the cabin offered privacy, placing them in a world all their own.
They spent the afternoon on the bed, wrapped in each other's arms.
Dimitri kissed him with hunger, taking as though they'd never get another chance to kiss. He explored every inch of Talin's body, caressing, trailing kisses, nibbling soft skin, tender places, and igniting heat that wouldn't die down.
Talin's fingers dug into Dimitri's back when Dimitri took him, stroking in with unrestrained strength. Each stroke reaching so deep inside him, he felt possessed. Ecstasy coursed in every cell in his body, he felt as though he'd never get enough of Dimitri.
Talin started to close his eyes when he was close to orgasm, but Dimitri stroked his fingers into his hair, and stopped him, holding his gaze. Heated blue eyes captured his, and his heart seized…the love he read in Dimitri's eyes undoing him.
He came apart in Dimitri's arms. Letting go as love he hadn't acknowledged burst in full bloom. Dimitri kissed him and Talin wrapped shaking arms around sweat-slicked shoulders, afraid. Afraid to lose Dimitri…to lose him when he loved him…Talin gasped when Dimitri kissed his eyes, and wiped away tears from his jaw.
"Don't cry," Dimitri said in a whisper, resting his full weight on Talin. "I know."
"What do you know?" Talin asked, hiding his face in Dimitri's shoulder. His fingers combed damp dark hair and he pressed a kiss on Dimitri's warm skin.
"I know what's in your heart." Dimitri held him tight. "I know because I feel the same."
Talin closed his eyes and the tears really fell this time.
Dimitri was his.
Dimitri rolled them to the side and held him tight.
They stayed in bed through the afternoon, talking, making plans for the future, and making love. When the sun started to slide down in the horizon, Talin wrapped a sheet around his shoulders and stepped out to the deck. The light turned the lake into shimmering glass, he grinned remembering his first date with Dimitri. Their first sunset together.
"It's so beautiful," Talin said, when Dimitri stood behind him holding him tight. "Should I take a picture?"
"I'll get your phone," Dimitri said.
Talin smiled as Dimitri entered the cabin.
Dimitri zipped his jeans and went to the living room where he'd dumped their bags. Reaching for Talin's, he unzipped it and had to move fast to catch a black bag from falling out. Curious, he opened the small black bag and found a shiny metallic box. Glancing toward the bedroom, he opened the box, and stared at the medicine packs and the new syringes.
"Did you find the phone?" Talin entered the living room. "The light is changing..."
His words trailed off when he saw what Dimitri was holding.
"What are these?" Dimitri asked.
"Meds," Talin said, coming to take them out of Dimitri's hand.
"I can see that," Dimitri said, grabbing Talin's left arm. He'd seen bruises on Talin's left arm, and assumed he'd gotten them helping at the bar. "What are they for?"
"The doctor gave them to me to manage pain," Talin said.
"Pain?" Dimitri felt chills race down his back, his gaze on Talin's arm. "How many times today?"
"How many times have you needed them?"
Talin dropped his gaze and placed the box on the coffee table.
"Don't lie to me."
Talin closed his eyes and opened the box for Dimitri.
"I have three doses left. I had eight when I came here."
Dimitri nodded and let go of Talin's arm. He wiped a hand down his face and moved to sit on the couch.
"We should go back."
"No," Talin shook his head. "This is good. We still have a few hours."
"No, it's not good. You're getting worse." Dimitri stared at Talin at a loss. "You're getting worse, and I have done nothing to fix it. We need to go back."
Talin started to protest, but Dimitri got up and went to the bedroom. He dressed in jerky motions, afraid if he stopped even for a second, his strength would fail him. The thought of Talin suffering in pain…it ate him up inside.
Talin came into the bedroom.
Dimitri ignored him and instead picked up Talin's jeans and t-shirt.
"Get dressed," Dimitri said, when he held out the clothes to Talin and he refused to wear them.
"I get dressed then what?" Talin asked. "We drive back to Colston, and track down Vlad. Is that what you want?"
"It makes sense."
Talin refused to take his clothes, so Dimitri grabbed the sheet from Talin and threw it on the floor. Ignoring Talin's sexy body, he crouched down and made Talin wear the jeans. He stood up, dragging the jeans up.
Talin smiled at him when Dimitri's fingers brushed over his cock.
"That sexy smile is not changing my mind," Dimitri said, kissing Talin's smiling lips. He zipped up the jeans with care and buttoned them.
"Come on, Dimitri."
Shaking out the white t-shirt, Dimitri found the hole for the head and slipped it over Talin's head. Talin stepped back, and wore the sleeves on his own.
"You're spoiling a perfectly good day," Talin complained.
"What do you want me to do?" Dimitri asked, finding their shoes: his boots, and Talin's leather sandals. "I can't watch you in pain, Talin. Ask me anything else. We need to get back to Colston, and find a way to convince Vlad to give us the antidote."
"I have a plan for that, but it concerns a lot of waiting, Dimitri. Please calm down, let's go out and see the sunset."
"No." Dimitri shook his head, kneeling to put Talin's shoes on. "We're going—
Talin refused to wear his shoes, instead running outside the balcony door.
Dimitri straightened still holding Talin's shoes. He hurried out the balcony and stopped when he found Talin had gone down the walkway to the lake.
Dropping Talin's shoes on the deck, he fought down panic. He had forgotten Talin was in danger, seeing him so healthy, it didn't seem right to think of him as dying.
Dimitri watched Talin sit on the edge of the walkway, his feet dangling above water. The wind tossed Talin's soft hair. Dimitri started to walk over determined to convince Talin to listen to him, and if Talin refused to carry him out to the car.
Then he got to Talin, and stared when Talin looked up at him.
"I love you," Talin said. "I really do love you."
"Talin." Dimitri sat down beside him, elated.
Talin returned his gaze to the sunset.
"I didn't think I'd get another chance to love. Then you showed up and wouldn't let me be," Talin shook his head. "I—
"If you do, just sit here with me for the next hour. Can you do that for me?"
Dimitri took Talin's right hand and placed it on his lap, twining his fingers with Talin's slender ones. He lifted their clasped hands to press a kiss on the back of Talin's hand.
"I'll do anything you want me to, my love."
Despite the dark storm looming a head, his dream had come true. Talin loved him.
Dimitri carried their bags into Talin's loft at ten o'clock. Talin followed in a slower pace. Dumping the bags on the floor, Dimitri stopped Talin at the door, and pressed his palm on Talin's forehead.
Talin walked around him.
"I'm tired too."
Dimitri closed the front door and picked up Talin's bag. He removed the metal box, and followed Talin to the couch.
"Don't," Talin protested when Dimitri started to prepare a shot. Talin sat on the couch and rested his head back with a sigh. "I don't think those meds are doing much. They are making me nauseous."
Dimitri took Talin's cell phone from his pocket.
"I'll call Raphael. You need a doctor."
"Dimitri," Talin said. "This is not going to get better."
Dimitri found Raphael's number on speed dial.
"He's first?" Dimitri asked with a frown. "Why aren't I first?"
"I'm changing it." Dimitri cut him off. "Do you even have my number on speed dial?"
"I don't have the energy to spar with you, Dimitri."
Dimitri scowled at him and dialed Raphael's number. The call was answered on the first ring.
"Where are you?" Raphael asked.
"We're at the loft. Talin is getting worse. His pain meds aren't working."
"Damn it, I told him to stay put and you two—"
"Bring the doctor with you, Raphael, hurry," Dimitri ordered and ended the call.
Dumping the phone on the coffee table, he shifted from the table and sat beside Talin on the couch.
"What can I do?" Dimitri asked, pulling Talin into his arms, holding him.
Talin rested his head on Dimitri's chest, his fingers bunching Dimitri's t-shirt. "This is perfect."
"Talin," Dimitri sighed.
"Tell me what you'll be doing tonight."
Dimitri stroked his fingers through Talin's hair.
"I'm taking Sean and Tomas to meet Vlad's shipment. Lucian might bring his men."
"Ilia said he convinced Lucian to join us," Talin said.
"Do you trust Ilia?" Dimitri asked. "He's a man who left his brother and ran away, Talin."
"I trust his sense of survival. Ilia wants Vlad ended because as long as she exists, Ilia can't live."
"And you think he was able to convince Lucian of this?" Dimitri asked.
Talin clutched Dimitri's t-shirt, breathing through a wave of nausea. They hadn't gotten a script on Ilia and Lucian's conversation in the basement. The brothers had spent two solid hours locked up together, and when Ilia emerged, he'd simply asked Himura to take him back to Raphael.
Dimitri had cut Lucian's ties and received a punch on his face for his efforts. After that, Lucian had left the marina and hadn't returned.
"Vlad hasn't shown up to shoot you dead, yet," Talin noted. "Lucian must have his reasons for keeping his silence about yesterday."
Dimitri pressed a soft kiss on Talin's head.
"We shouldn't trust him."
"I know." Talin clung to him. "You're the only one I trust, Dimitri."
Dimitri closed his eyes and wished for the morning.
If Talin could make it through this night…he'd give anything.
His head ached, a persistent ache that made him feel like he was going crazy. Talin closed his eyes and took in Dimitri's scent. Dimitri held him tight regardless of the doctor checking his vitals.
Raphael insisted on not telling him the doctor's name.
To protect him, Raphael said.
Talin wondered how he'd ended up in this kind of life.
"Your pain levels are increasing." The doctor produced a syringe from his bag. "We'll increase the dose, but you have to realize if we can't get the antidote soon, we need to admit you into a hospital."
Dimitri's arm tightened around Talin's shoulders.
"We'll get it tonight," Raphael said, from his position by the windows. "Don't worry."
Talin thought Raphael was convincing himself and Dimitri.
"Give me the shot," Talin said, extending his left arm to the doctor.
He buried his face into Dimitri's chest as the doctor gave him the injection. He'd always hated needles, and the constant injections were driving him crazy. When the doctor was done, Talin pushed back his sleeve, and smiled.
"I feel better already," he lied, with a wan smile.
The doctor gave him a skeptic look but nodded in understanding.
"You have at least three hours before you start deteriorating."
"I understand," Talin nodded.
"In that time, I hope you can get the antidote."
The doctor got up, gave him a short bow, and left the loft.
Dimitri sat silent beside him.
Talin forced energy into his voice.
"Guys, it's almost eleven. We should get going—
"I'll go with you," Dimitri said then. "I'll go with you to meet Vlad."
Raphael scoffed by the windows.
"Don't you have a job to do at the marina?"
Dimitri ignored Raphael, and turned to Talin.
"We'll get the antidote. Get you better."
Talin read panic in Dimitri's blue eyes.
If Dimitri didn't go to the marina, all their plans would fall through. Dimitri needed to meet that shipment tonight.
"Don't ask me to watch you go alone."
"He's not going alone," Raphael protested.
"Talin," Dimitri said, once again ignoring Raphael.
Talin cupped Dimitri's face, kissing him then, a soft promising kiss that left him aching with longing for the cabin. He pulled back and met Dimitri's beautiful blue eyes.
"Katerina and Lukas need you," Talin said. "Go to the marina, Dimitri, leave Vlad to Raphael and me."
"Talin." Dimitri shook his head.
"I'll come back to you," Talin promised.
Dimitri held his gaze, his eyes shining with what looked like tears.
"Don't break that promise."
"I have to water the rose plant you gave me, remember?"
Dimitri laughed a short surprised burst that brightened up his face.
Talin nodded archiving the sound of Dimitri's laugh, and his happy expression.
"Just like that," Talin said, kissing Dimitri again. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Talin got up then, the room spinning; he prayed that he wouldn't fall on his face.
"Raphael, we should get going," Talin said.
Dimitri got to his feet too.
"Call me?" Dimitri asked.
"As soon as it is over, yes."
Talin took a jacket he'd left on the armchair and wore it. He waved at Dimitri, and then before he lost his courage, he left the loft.
His headache made walking a chore. He felt hot, though without the jacket it felt too cold. He'd been fighting nausea all day, now it felt like his insides were crawling out. Downstairs in the parking lot, Talin stumbled against Raphael's black Mercedes and Raphael hurried to his side.
"How bad is it?" Raphael asked, taking his right arm.
"Let's hope I can bluff my way through the meeting with Vlad," Talin said, grateful when Raphael helped him onto the passenger seat. "Raphael, promise to protect Dimitri, if anything goes wrong."
"Promise me," Talin said, grabbing Raphael's arm when he started to close the door.
Raphael cursed under his breath and met his gaze.
"I promise, fucking Dimitri will have a rosy life."
Talin smiled. "Thanks."
"Don't thank me," Raphael slammed the door closed and walked around to the driver's side.
Talin glanced up at the lit loft windows, and hoped Dimitri would make it tonight. He wanted to see the sunset again with Dimitri, spend a billion evenings with him.
The lake was cold.
Dimitri shivered even though he wore a heavy leather jacket. Once again, the Anastasia stood in the dark night, surrounded by dark waters, waiting for a signal.
The final signal, Dimitri thought, his gaze on the two men standing with him. Sean and Tomas were tense too.
Lucian was below deck. He'd joined them at the marina at the last minute. He wasn't in the mood to talk. Dimitri didn't blame him.
Two flashes of light cut through the darkness.
"It's time," Sean said.
Dimitri started the engines and drove the Anastasia closer to the new boat. This time, two of the crew from the other boat boarded the Anastasia. Dimitri froze when he saw them followed by three young girls barely in their twenties. He fought down bile as more of them boarded the Anastasia, each going to the cargo hold, those cold rooms he'd washed haphazardly yesterday.
None of the girls was dressed for the cold. The girls shivered, clinging to one another. The crew from the other boat treated them rough, pushing them into the cargo holds like sheep.
"Twenty," one of the crew from the other boat said. "You die if you lose one."
"Nothing to worry about," Sean called back, watching the two crew members get back to their boat.
Lucian came out then. He closed the cargo hold doors himself, and pocketed the key.
Dimitri gave him a grim look before he went to the cockpit and turned the Anastasia towards shore. He tensed when Lucian came to stand beside him.
"Sasha is waiting at the dock," Lucian said. "Nothing can go wrong. Those girls are not your concern. Concentrate on saving your life tonight."
"They're children," Dimitri said, his fingers gripping the steering wheel tight. "It was bad enough with the women, but these girls—
"Don't fuck up the plan," Lucian warned. "I might be helping, but we're all going to die if shit goes wrong. Trust me. Vlad is too edgy as it is."
Dimitri refused to imagine the fate the twenty girls in his cargo hold would face. He wasn't going to sit back and watch this time.
Why hadn't the cargo been drugs, or guns?
Young girls, he cursed under his breath. Twenty lives.
"If you want to worry, think about your boyfriend." Lucian gripped his right shoulder. "Talin is meeting Vlad as we speak, you fuck up, and she won't hesitate to kill him even if he gets the antidote."
Dimitri shrugged Lucian's hand off his shoulder and concentrated on getting the Anastasia to shore. He couldn't think about Talin without going mad.
As Lucian had warned, Sasha waited with a large white van when they docked. Sasha had four men waiting with him, all armed with automatic guns.
Sasha boarded the Anastasia and took the key from Lucian. He and his men unlocked the cargo hold.
Dimitri clenched his jaw as they too roughly pulled the young women out of the boat and dragged them to the van. When it was over, they all left the Anastasia.
Dimitri walked with his right hand resting on his hip and the gun hidden under his jacket. Sasha and Lucian were talking, the four men with Sasha packing the young women in to the van fast.
Frightened screams and whimpers tore at Dimitri.
Dimitri glanced at Sean, then Tomas.
One single nod and he withdrew his gun. His aim was precise; he took out two of Sasha's men. Sean and Tomas shot the remaining two. He shifted his gun to Sasha, and a small wave of relief filled him when he saw Lucian holding the muzzle of his gun to Sasha's forehead.
"This is a bad decision." Sasha hissed glaring at him in the moonlight.
Lucian used the butt of his gun to knock Sasha on the head, hard. Sasha groaned and fell back on Lucian, sliding to the ground unconscious.
"Are you going to pick him up?" Dimitri asked Lucian.
Lucian ignored him and pointed to where Sean and Tomas were busy helping the women out of the van.
"We need the cargo to get into Vlad's warehouse."
"Not cargo, they're people, Lucian. We work without the young women." Dimitri refused to put another black mark on his conscious. It was already heavy enough. "They will stay here."
"Vlad scans the vans as they go into the warehouse."
Lucian pushed him against the van.
"We need the women."
"Can you guarantee they won't be touched?" Dimitri asked.
"I'm telling you what you need to get in to the warehouse," Lucian said. "Without the women, you die. She'll blow the van the moment she realizes it's empty."
Dimitri looked to Sean and Tomas. They both stood guarding the young women.
"This is not a suggestion," Lucian said, glancing at his watch. "We have a schedule to keep, Dimitri. Don't forget we have Himura and Ilia waiting at the warehouse. They can help you with the cargo."
"Not good enough," Dimitri shook his head. "They won't make it inside on time."
"We don't have a choice. If Vlad scans the van and sees missing cargo, we're screwed. All of us," Lucian said.
Dimitri stared at the shivering young girls and felt a hollow open in his stomach.
"If you want this to end tonight, we have no choice but to bring them." Lucian gripped his jacket tight. "There is no choice. Their lives are not in your hands, Dimitri."
"Why has it always been so easy for you?"
"Survival of the fittest," Lucian said through gritted teeth. "Tell Sean and Tomas to put the women back in the van. We don't have time to waste."
Dimitri cursed and looked at Sean. Giving him a short nod, he watched as they urged the women back into the van. Their pleas and cries tore at him deep inside.
"Think of this as one of your military missions, Dimitri. Your primary target is Vlad." Lucian let go of his jacket and bent over Sasha. "Grab his arms; we're going to need his eyes at the warehouse."
Talin lays his head on Dimitri's lap, watching the sunset. Sui joins them because it looks too awesome to ignore.
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