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One day the spook comes to him with a proposition.

It’s unusual for him to talk with anyone after the battle. The most he usually does is exchange enthusiastic whoops of victory or sympathetic pats on the shoulder with the teammates he comes across on the way out of the field. When the workday ends he prefers to be left alone - and he knows how to. The others know by now it’s better not to look for Sniper when he walks away.

That’s why he almost ends up slashing the man with his kukri when he appears behind his back.

The blade stops just inches away from his middle. He’s lucky his reflexes have always been good.

He helps him up from where he fell on the floor, slightly apologetic. Just slightly. He should know better than to approach him with so much stealth. It’s old business for both of them: spies versus snipers; everyday’s work. They are attuned to the enemy, alert to their presence, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell friend from foe. Especially with spies.

Spy is a proud man. He clears his throat and fixes his tie, grumbling something under his breath. Sniper decides it’s as good time as any to ask him what the bloody hell he’s doing here.

“I came to make you an offer, bushman; one that you would be wise to consider.”

At first he can’t believe his ears. Is he really proposing what he thinks he is - spending the night together every once in a while? Oh, he is; he’s not as naïve as to think it would be just a time-sharing arrangement, what use could Spy have for that? No, it's about something far more primal, and he doesn’t know whether to feel affronted by it... or interested.

He isn’t going to lie: Spy is easy on the eyes. There’s something about him - maybe it’s the sharp angles of his face, or the wiry shape of his calves. Or maybe he’s just got a weakness for the lean types. He’s got to admit that in more than one occasion he’s caught himself staring through his scope at his rather eye-catching behind.

Which doesn’t mean he’s going to start bedding his coworker. That would be terribly unprofessional.

Spy must have caught on his indecision because he presses on his point.

“It would be mutually beneficial, of course. I am sure both our performances would significantly improve. You, for instance, could use some tension release - I heard it does wonders to your aim...”

“I do not need to get laid to be good at my job, spook.”

“Of course you don’t,” he says with enough of a sarcastic hint in his tone to annoy him. “But it would help, there is no doubt about it.”

He isn’t going to dignify that with an answer.

“Once a week, maybe. Or it could be more often, if you wish. No strings attached - just two professionals helping each other. I would say it is a good arrangement, all in all, don’t you think?”

He shouldn’t be considering it, he really shouldn’t. But the more he thinks about it... It’s been quite some time since he last got involved with someone in that way and he supposes it would be nice to blow off some steam from time to time.

And put like that... it does sound convenient.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but... fine.” He sighs. “Let’s give it a try.”

“Magnificent!” Spy looks like the cat that got the canary. God, what has he got himself into?

---

They often cross paths at the battlefield.

This is not strange at all. Despite the fact that his job in particular most of the time requires taking an isolated position, Spy’s asks for him to be everywhere. He roams, cloaked or disguised, searching for targets for his knife and sappers. So, inevitably, at some point of the day he’ll be sitting at his nest or quickly moving to a new place and he’ll catch the scent of cigarettes, a blur of dark colour or the hint of a cough and he’ll know it’s him because it doesn’t end with a butterfly knife lodged in his spine.

It hasn’t changed since their meeting, not at all. Spy still comes and goes, mysterious bastard that he is, sliding through corridors and stairs with artful stealth and swift steps. If anything, it seems the man’s even more present than before. It does nothing to get their arrangement out of his mind.

He’s had time to think of what’s to come. He’s not nervous, not quite, but... on edge. That’s it. It’s been a while, after all. It’s not like he doesn’t remember what to do, but- still. It’s different with everyone, and he doesn’t know what to expect from Spy.

It really doesn’t help that Spy’s a bloody tease.

He feels a touch in his shoulder and hurriedly turns around to find Spy smirking at him. “See you later,” he purrs and he winks, and Sniper knows he isn’t talking about their occasional encounters during the battle. He chokes on his own spit and with a “piss off, you wanker” he sends the spook away, listening to his retreating snorts with irritation and mild embarrassment. That wasn’t necessary at all - and he’s bloody working right now, thank you very much.

“So much for being professional,” he grumbles to himself.

---

They meet at his camper.

He suggested it, and Spy surprisingly went with it - he suspects the man’s trying to get him the most comfortable possible with the idea. Which is... nice, to be honest, and quite unexpected from his part - Spy is anything but nice, unless there’s a woman involved, in which case he’ll kick into “gentleman mode” and be the most courteous bloke in existence. But there’s no need to say here and now there’s not a woman in miles.

It’s just him and Sniper.

He can’t help but fidget.

“So, here we are,” he breaks the silence. Spy removes his cigarette from his mouth and raises an eyebrow at his tense form.

“Really, bushman?” he retorts with amusement. “One would think you have never done this before.”

Forget it, he’s still a wanker.

“Sh-shut it, you snake! It’s been a while, okay?”

“Long enough to forget how it is done? Hmm, how poorly planned on your part, tireur d'élite. Such a shame; I was hoping to be satisfied tonight.”

Sniper is starting to lose his patience.

 “I truly hope it doesn’t affect your performance-”

“I’ll show you performance!” he growls and pulls Spy from his tie, dragging him into a furious kiss. He can feel the smirk in the rogue’s mouth and that spurs him more, urging him to bite that infuriating lower lip; Spy groans unabashedly and opens his mouth to him.

Spy is, by all means, a good kisser. It’s clear he’s got experience - that tongue’s as clever as his owner, brushing over his tongue, his teeth, his palate, all the spots that turn him into a right mess. Sniper grunts hungrily in his mouth and pushes, pushes until Spy’s back hits the ladder that leads to the bed. The man doesn’t seem to care, dragging the hand that was resting on his neck down his shoulder, his arm, his waist, his back.

He doesn’t know when exactly he caught Spy by the waist, but he did, and now his grip tightens on the fabric of his jacket as needy fingers make a grab for his arse. His hips stutter forward, and he can feel Spy’s urgency mirroring his own. His hands roam up and down his back under his suit, pawing at his shirt, desperately searching for skin; Spy responds tugging at his belt, loosening it impressively quickly - he’s still struggling with the shirt, for God’s sake - and sliding his hands down under his boxers, caressing his butt cheeks with abandon.

Huh, that’s something he can easily get into. His body agrees.

It’s embarrassingly soon when it’s over, both urgently humping each other until he reaches completion. Luckily for him, Spy isn’t far off - a couple more thrusts and he’s over right then, groaning loudly in his ear. They slowly slide to the floor, still clinging to each other’s clothes and trying to catch their breath.

“Well, that was... something,” Spy says as nonchalantly as he can, which is not much, really, as he’s still gasping for air, cheeks coloured up.

“You can say that, mate,” he agrees, flushing even more. They had gone at it like a couple of teenagers; they didn’t make it to bed - hell, they didn’t even manage to take off their clothes! Unbelievable.

“I would propose a second round, but I have to admit that I’m not as young as I used to be - it might take a while.”

“Same here,” he shakily nods. His backside’s getting cold. “Why don’t we just... lie down on the bed for a bit?”

“It certainly sounds better than the floor,” Spy concedes.

And as they both lie together, Spy kissing his shoulder blades, Sniper can’t help but think that this could really work.

He only hopes it won't come back and bite him on the arse.

---

It’s not long before the rest of the team notice something’s changed.

“Real good job, son!” Soldier claps a firm hand on his shoulder, making him lose his balance. “Today you made your entire unit proud, private. You showed those sorry maggots how we do things in the USA!”

“Really, Slim,” Engineer adds with appreciation, “you’ve been doing one helluva good work out there lately. They’ve been dropping like flies!”

He thanks Truckie with a modest smile and, against all his rational thoughts that keep yelling ‘don’t you look at him, don’t you dare’, he risks a peek to the left and- yes, he’s smirking, the smug bastard.

Embarrassing as it is, it is true - Spy was right, it does help. Hell, he hates to admit it but he even shoots better: his hand stays steady for longer periods of time, and the amount of shots missed for being startled has reduced; not that it happened too often, but it did, and now it seems not to be that much of a problem anymore.

Spy’s noticed he’s looking, and cockily mouths to him: “Wonders”. He frowns at him and covertly flips him the bird.

Everyone turns to watch them curiously as Spy starts laughing loudly, and Sniper once again questions his life choices.

---

Most of the time, they wake up at Sniper’s camper. It’s the place they usually choose for their rendez-vous, as Spy likes to call them. There are several reasons why - and Sniper likes to remind him of them whenever he’ll start complaining about his old mattress, or the odd sock haphazardly thrown on a corner of the floor.

The vehicle is pretty well conditioned: there’s a sink, a stove and a table, and a bed big enough for two. He’s learned to be prepared - there’s always coffee and food and water and, lately, a stash of condoms and lube carefully kept into his storage box. Mostly everything they need is at hand, which is awfully convenient when both are in a rush.

Also there’s the matter of discretion: it’s easier for Spy to slip in and out of the base unnoticed and, as Sniper more often than not already sleeps at the camper, no one ought to find his absence strange.

However, the main reason - and his most played card - is that it’s parked outside the building, close to the wire fence that separates the base from the vast American desert and far enough from indiscrete ears. Which means they can be as loud as they want.

“Where is my shoe?”

“It’s under the table, you twat - stop nagging!”

“Ugh - if you just cleaned up once in a while it wouldn’t be this difficult to find everything.”

“It’s not my fault you threw every damn article of clothing wherever you bloody pleased!”

“I admit I was a bit… distracted at the moment, but as I said, a little order wouldn’t do any harm to your precious living arrangements, bushman.”

“Oh, shut your trap - it is fine as it is.”

“Whatever you say, mon ami. I’m off.”

“Wait, it’s six o’clock - it’s Saturday, no one ought to be up yet. Do you want to stay for coffee?”

“While I admit I prefer your brand over the abomination our company provides, I should be going - I have a meticulous routine to follow and today is no exception.”

“Come on, mate, just a cuppa - maybe we could… do something else, if you want?”

“… I suppose I could be persuaded.”

---

There are nights when nothing happens.

Sometimes, they’re so exhausted after a particularly strenuous battle that they look at each other and silently agree it’s enough for one day. They sleep on their own.

He's got to admit he’s got used to the company. The bed feels too empty, too cold for his liking.

Most of those nights he’ll end up digging out from under his table the bag of coal he always keeps and, despite the tiredness that makes his muscles ache, starting a fire a couple of feet away from the camper. Sitting on the floor, he’ll stab some slices of beef he stole from their rations and watch them seal, the raw meat slowly turning brown over the flames.

It used to calm him, the loneliness of the night. At least here - back in Australia, he had to be always alert, in case he came across any dangerous nocturnal animals. In the middle of this war, the quiet was a welcome break from the madness.

These days he’s too used to Spy’s presence; it’s strange not to hear his voice, to breathe in tobacco-free air. He can’t help but think of what he would say if he were to see the magazine he found under the sink, or hear what Demo told him when they crossed paths in the battlefield.

 Sometimes, when he’s alone in his bed, he can almost feel him murmuring in his ear in a language foreign to him. 

That’s when he comes out, and gazes at the stars up in the sky until sleep comes to him.

---

He didn’t see it coming.

One Sunday morning he wakes up to the call of nature and, untangling himself carefully from Spy’s embrace - the man’s worse than a bloody octopus in his sleep, not that he’s complaining - he slides off the bed, grabs an empty jar and exits the van as quietly as he can.

He can’t help but hum a tune as he relieves himself, a sense of contentment washing over him, relaxing his muscles, coursing through his veins. It’s been a while since he’s felt like this - comfortable, light… happy?

He raises his head and his gaze falls on the camper’s side mirror. His hair is unkempt, all messed up by sleep and clever fingers. He’s smiling: a small smile that stretches into a grin as he lazily looks at the red marks the spook left on his neck last night - he had started teasing Spy about his cigarettes, complaining that “one of these days you’ll forget you’re even smoking and burn me a mark with one of those”, to which the sly snake had replied that he knew better ways to mark him, which had lead to…

And then he sees his eyes.

They’re half lidded, soft; glinting with the morning light and the hint of a smile and something there, something that just looks like-

Like-

Oh.

Oh hell, he’s in trouble.

---

Sometimes, on his nights alone, Spy will find him anyways.

He’ll appear in a puff of smoke next to him, cigarette in his mouth, with an unreadable expression. Despite the exhaustion lining his eyes and his characteristic sense of decorum, he’ll drop beside him and watch the flames go up, up into the night sky.

Most of those times, they are silent. It should be strange, considering Spy’s clear preference for chatter, but somehow it isn’t. It feels natural, the quiet; comforting in its own. They bask in it, shoulders touching.

Sometimes they exchange tales about their days. He sees plenty of stuff around through his scope, and Spy’s a mine of information. He doesn’t share too much of it, but he knows the spook relishes in gossip and from time to time he’ll drop a hint about the reason for Heavy’s suspicious behaviour after dinner, or its connection to the pair of red high heels he found under Medic’s desk - too much information, by the way, thank you very much.

The hours pass, and together they chase away the stress of the day, until tiredness catches up with them and they retire to the camper to sleep.

---

On occasion, they’ll wake up at Spy’s room. It’s an indulgence of sorts - he loves his camper, mind you, but it’s bloody nice to sleep in a proper bed once in a while. That, and the fact there isn’t a roof just three feet over you means a whole lot more room for movement, which is much appreciated.

Spy always insists that this is much better than getting intimate next to several jars of piss - which is an exaggeration, as he’s got only a couple of them ready to use and they’re stored away somewhere they’d never get in the way - but he knows that, at the end of the day, he doesn’t really care that much.

They have to be quieter, though: the base is full of men that greatly appreciate their sleep, and wouldn’t be very happy if they were to lower their performance because someone couldn’t keep it down, although they’re not the only ones with a busy night schedule - Truckie is known to spend most of his nights down at his workshop, working on some new gadget or another; Soldier’s got sleep issues and usually can be found patrolling the base’s corridors; and the lights on Doc’s lab are almost always suspiciously on until late.

Nevertheless, it’s better not to cross any of their crazy teammates; who knows what could happen.

Also, it adds a certain touch to their nights together - resisting making any kind of sound under the other’s ministrations makes for a nice challenge. It’s certainly fun to see who’s going to be the first to come undone and give into the urge to groan.

“Move off, spook, you’re crushing me.”

“Hush, bushman - I’m just trying to lie down.”

“This wouldn’t have happened back in my beaut - there’s plenty space for two in her bed.”

“What there is not in that place is enough room for you to ride me, chéri.”

“That’s… a point, I guess.”

“See, bushman, the benefits of-”

“… Ght thh hnd hff mh mmth!”

“Shh, I think I heard Soldier passing by- mon dieu!”

“Bloody hell, calm down!”

“Did you just… lick my hand?”

“… What if I did?”

“Hmm… it would be a shame not to put it to use.”

“… Round three?”

“Ah, you read my mind, dear tireur d'élite.”

---

“Oi, Snipes, everything okay?”

He’s startled out of his thoughts. Scout’s there, standing in front of him, looking at him with a raised eyebrow and waving a hand in front of his eyes. He grunts in response and rubs at his face to clear his mind; he’s been daydreaming a lot lately.

He can’t get him out of his mind.

“Seriously, man, you were really out of it just now. You alright?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he grumbles. Then he feels sort of bad, seeing the concealed concern in the boy’s eyes. “It’s okay, mate, just lost in thought. It won’t happen again.”

“Alright,” Scout nods, crossing his arms. “Just be careful, you know - I know you ‘n the French fry are being all gross and all, but try not to do it in the middle of the action, okay?” And with a final wink he’s gone, off to pester Heavy for the leftovers of his sandwich.

He groans and buries his face in his hands. This is getting out of control. Spy’s everywhere: he’s there in the morning, he’s there in the battlefield, he’s there in the night. He can’t help but search for him with his rifle when there’s nothing else for him to do, as if he doesn’t see him enough. Thing is, he can’t think of much else than the spook’s laugh, his taunts, his touch... He’s caught himself smiling fondly at memories much more than he should.

And there lies the problem: he’s become attached. Without him noticing, Spy has managed to weave himself into his life in a way that now he doesn’t know what he’ll do when everything’s done. He can’t hold up his part of the deal anymore: he can’t be just professional about it.

God help him; he’s become fond of the spook.

And if Scout has noticed, how could Spy not? He knows it’s only a matter of time, but he refuses to go down without a fight.

---

A palm slides down his front, fondling his chest in earnest. He grunts - he aches to touch Spy, but his hands are masterfully tied behind his back with the spook’s tie. It’s like his body can’t decide - his back arches, seeking more contact, then his hips rise asking for friction. Spy chuckles, murmuring something under his breath, and keeps hovering over him, far from his reach.

Spy lowers his head and kisses him. It is playful and luring, goading him into reaction; he tilts his head and tries to devour him - more than half an hour of teasing does a number on you. He licks inside, hungrily, and Spy groans into his mouth. The kiss turns demanding and Spy finally, finally comes down to meet him and- oh. Oh Heavens.

He can’t help but thrust upwards in quick little motions - he doesn’t want to look desperate but oh, he is, and isn’t that the heart of the matter? Spy at least seems to have forgotten about the foreplay and is eagerly meeting him in the middle, rubbing against him in all the right places. He leaves his mouth in favour of his throat, where he starts licking and sucking and that’s going to leave a mark, it’s high up so he won’t be able to cover it tomorrow but he doesn’t care, he hasn’t cared for a while now and he’s lost, lost in the feeling of Spy all over him.

“I want to ride you,” Spy says against his skin, and he shudders. “I want to sit on you and feel you inside me, feel your hunger, your craving - I want to see you undone by me.” And he wants to say ‘I already am’, but he can’t and he’s got to content himself with kissing his temples and his brow and mouthing on that traitorous mask - not enough skin, not enough - while Spy keeps biting at his neck.

Spy goes lower, and lower, peppering his collarbone, his chest, his belly with love bites and kisses and he can’t do nothing, his arms are trapped behind him and he yearns, he yearns.

Suddenly, it’s over. He wants to reach out but Spy is drawing back and- oh, the lube. A jolt runs through him as he watches him uncap the bottle and squirt some on his fingers, reach down to tease his own entrance. Biting his lips does little to contain the moan he makes when the man grabs him and aims him in the right direction, and he pushes and-

It’s tight, it’s always been tight, but not too much - Spy knows what he’s doing, he’s been doing it for so long - and he almost finishes right there and then, but he’s able to hold back. It’s not over yet. Spy doesn’t have much room to manoeuvre, with the roof so close, but he manages, planting his elbows firmly on each side of his head and thrusting back onto him, letting him slide inside inch by inch.

They don’t wait much. They are eager to find their release; they have waited enough. He’s particularly so - the fact he can’t touch Spy has been driving him mad the whole time. Spy doesn’t disappoint: once he sets up a pace he doesn’t stop, he moves faster and faster, and they’re moving in tandem, both panting and groaning and he can feel Spy’s breath on his face and if he could tilt his head up and capture his mouth he would, but he needs to move-

Surprisingly, Spy finishes first. He arches his back and rises a bit and almost screams, tensing all around him and making him see stars. He follows him seconds later - it’s too much, the pressure, the frustration, the heat. He comes back to Spy nuzzling his jaw, already disengaged, rubbing his stubble into his. He thinks he can feel him purr.

And he’s murmuring something.

Mon tireur d'élite... je t'implore de ne jamais m'abandonner.

Spy suddenly stiffens in his arms. He does too, confused. Spy pulls himself up and they lock eyes - Spy’s frozen like a deer in the highlights, and what he sees in his eyes fills him with dread.

He’s going to lose him.

“I- I have to go,” Spy stutters - stutters! - and slides away from him. He quickly climbs down the ladder and gathers his clothes. It’s testimony of his haste that he only slips on his underwear and his watch.

“Wait!” he shouts, but it’s too late - Spy’s gone, and cloaked, and Sniper’s left in his camper naked, wrists still tightly wrapped in the man’s tie.

---

They never cross paths at the battlefield anymore. It’s as if they’re going out of their way to avoid each other; maybe they are.

He never thought he’d miss those casual jabs at his concentration or the occasional prank at his expense. Now every time he catches the smell of cigarettes, a blur of dark colour or the hint of a cough he quickly turns around, kukri on the ready because he knows, he knows it’s not him and that pisses him off every time. Well, mostly he feels an ache he can’t define.

Spy’s a daft bugger. He may not speak French, but he knows enough to understand the nature of what he said. Coward. He shouldn’t have run away, and Sniper shouldn’t have let him go - too fast, he didn’t even had a chance to think, so stunned he was with his reaction.

He can’t get it off his mind. Those eyes. The horror in them.

He thinks he hears footsteps, but it’s just the wind rattling a loose plank against the side window.

There and then, Sniper decides he’s had enough. He’s done being a coward too.

He makes a decision.

---

Finally, one day Sniper goes to Spy with a proposition.

He has to go out of his way to reach him - when the spook doesn’t want to be found, he’s practically undetectable. He only comes across traces of his presence, like pieces of sentries scattered on the battlefield, the occasional enemy corpse lying on the ground with a stab wound in its back, or a particular gust of wind carrying a faint, familiar smell of cigarettes.

Sniper at last finds him in the kitchen at night. It’s late, and clearly Spy’s been waiting for the team to retire to bed in order to grab a bite in silence. But he knows everyone’s night schedule as well as him, and he knows when the man’s more likely to attempt anything.

And he’s right.

Spy tenses at the sound of his footsteps, but he doesn’t turn away from the fridge. Neither does he run, so that’s something.

“We need to talk, spook.”

Spy lets out a long, tired sigh. He sounds resigned.

“I figured the time would come.” Spy turns around, staring at a point on the vicinity of his head. “My apologies, mon ami, but I’m afraid I cannot proceed any further with this.”

He doesn’t need to ask what he’s talking about. “And why is that?”

His eyes glint dangerously. “That is not for you to know.”

“Oh, really? That’s funny, because I thought it was my business, more than anyone else’s.”

Spy looks away, fingers twitching. He looks like he really needs a cigarette.

Sniper sighs, sliding a hand down his face. “Look, spook, I know it’s not an easy matter - we made a bloody mess of it, to be honest. But the thing is... it was good. What we had. It worked.”

Spy is silent. He’s listening, at least.

“And I know it’s bloody complicated - we work together and our jobs are bloody demanding and hell, we die every day - but it helped a lot to know that at the end of the day, after all the crazy you’d have my back. And I yours.”

He hopes he’s getting his point across. He wishes Spy would just look at him in the eye.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen - nobody knows, least of all in this mad hellhole. But,” he takes a breath, “I know I want to see what happens. And I want to do it with you.”

The kitchen is dark, only the light of the moon illumining them from the windows. He can hear distant footsteps, marching to and fro in the main hallway - one, two, three; one, two, three. An owl hoots, and Sniper is usually content with the way he is, but right now he wishes he was better at this, he wishes he was as suave as Spy, who was able to sell him this whole idea in the first place without losing an ounce of his composure. He searches for the right words and inhales, long and deep and trying to gather his courage.

“Let’s give it a try; shall we?”

Spy finally, finally looks at him, face inscrutable, a multitude of emotions swirling in his eyes. There’s doubt, and fear, but also a bit of hope, and something else he can’t define. He aches to reach for him.

Spy clears his throat.

“It probably isn’t wise to pursue this any further,” he says, and Sniper’s throat closes a little, “but fine. I am willing to see where this leads us.”

He feels he can breathe again. Spy quirks his mouth in a sideways smile, and he can’t help but grin in response. He walks towards him and pulls him into a hug; Spy’s surprised, but he quickly recovers and hugs back. God, he missed the wanker.

And as they kiss, wrapped in each other against the fridge, Sniper reflects. He may not be sure of many things, but this time, he knows exactly what he’s got himself into. And the prospect’s not bad, not bad at all.